You can still enjoy pasta if you have diabetes. But because it is high in carbohydrates, you'll need to adjust your portion size and/or choose healthier varieties, such as whole wheat or fortified pasta. Pasta substitutes like ancient grains or spiraled vegetables are also great options.
Eating too many carbs can cause inflammation, weight gain, and higher blood sugars, especially in people with diabetes. Choosing a healthy alternative to traditional pasta can help you satisfy your craving while managing your condition.
This article looks at the best traditional pasta varieties and alternative "pastas" that are best for those with diabetes. It also covers tips for incorporating these options into your diet.
Best Choices in the Pasta Aisle
Instead of regular white pasta made from refined grain, look for pasta that is high in fiber and/or protein and contains fewer carbs.
- Whole wheat pasta tastes much like white pasta cooked al dente. It is slightly lower in carbs than regular pasta. More importantly, a 1/3-cup serving of cookedwhole wheat pastahas threetimes the fiber, making it a better option for blood sugar control.
- Fortified pasta has more protein and more fiber in the same amount of calories as regular pasta.These types of pasta have egg whites, lentils, and other protein sources added to the flour blend. They also may include barley and oats to add morefiber, and flaxseed to add healthy omega-3 fats. In fact, a 2021 study finds that higher levels ofsome omega-3 fatty acids could reduce your risk of early death by 13%.
- Gluten-free pasta products are available at most grocery stores. They include pasta made with brown rice, quinoa, and other options.Keep in mind that gluten-free pasta isn't necessarily a better choice just because it's gluten-free. Some varieties can be high in carbohydrates and low in fiber and protein, so pay attention to the label when buying. Look for options that have fewer carbs but still deliver plenty of protein and fiber, such as chickpea pasta.
Ancient Whole Grains
Ancient whole grains are another great alternative to pasta. They may not look at all like the pasta you are used to, but they have the same kind of hearty flavor while packing in more nutrients.
More common grains, such as quinoa, have become popular in recent years. Less common options, at least for Americans, are farroand sorghum. These are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals when mixed into your favorite sauces and recipes.
To add flavor, these ancient grains can be cooked in chicken, beef, or vegetable stock instead of plain water. Serve themas a side dish with fish or chicken, or top with another protein like egg or tofu, plus vegetables and a sauce.
You can make grain-based salads too, but remember to keep your portions in check for best blood sugar control.
Spaghetti squash is often used to replace pasta. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that is perfect for tomato-based sauces. The squash flesh becomes stringy when cooked and looks a lot like spaghetti; hence the name. It can be used as a lower-carb, more nutrient-rich version of some of your pasta favorites.
There is another difference you might welcome too. When compared to traditional pasta, you can eat a lot more spaghetti squash for the same amount of carbs. In fact, 1 1/2 cups of the cooked, shredded squash is equal in carbs to 1/3 cup of cooked pasta.
Veggie Spirals and Ribbons
Use a vegetable peeler to produce spirals or ribbons of non-starchy vegetablesto use in place of pasta.Some good options to try include zucchini, yellow summer squash, carrots, eggplant, peppers, and cabbage.
Steam the ribbons so that they taste and feel like regular pasta. Enjoy a serving size of 1 1/2 cups of cooked veggie ribbons for only 15 grams of carbs.
Pasta Night Tips for People With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, it's important to make healthier choices and manage your carbohydrate consumption. Here are a few guidelines for making healthier choices on pasta night.
- Choose healthier carbs. If you're going to pair bread with your meal, go for a whole-grain option. Complex carbs like those found in whole-grain pastas are higher in fiber and take longer to digest, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. The same as true of whole-grain bread.
- Eat less red meat and processed meat. For example, prepare bolognese sauce with ground turkey instead of ground beef, and avoid sauces that contain bacon or sausage. You can also try making a pasta sauce with lentils or mushrooms in place of the meat.
- Add vegetables to your plate. A salad with a light vinaigrette can make a delicious and healthy complement to your meal.
- Choose healthy fats. Olive oil is a good choice for Italian dishes like pasta, but you can also use rapeseed oil or sunflower oil. Cheese has a low glycemic index and can be a good source of protein, but it's also high in fat. Use it sparingly as a garnish for pasta or salad.
- Reduce your sodium intake. Homemade pasta sauces contain less salt than bottled varieties. In general, you should avoid consuming more than one teaspoon of salt each day.
- Limit sugar. You can find added sugar in unexpected places, like bottled pasta sauces and salad dressings. You'll also find added sugar in certain varieties of store-bought bread.
- Practice portion control. Even healthier varieties of pasta can still be high in carbohydrates, so limit how much pasta you put on your plate. Try filling most of your plate with a vegetable dish, or mix spiralized zucchini with whole wheat pasta to add more volume with fewer carbs.
The Truth About Dreamfields "Low-carb" Pasta
If you're looking for healthy options to traditional pasta, you may find whole-grain and veggie substitutes that reduce your carb intake are as good or better than what you're used to. That's important for people with diabetes who need to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
The options are helpful for people who need to avoid gluten, too. But you don't really need a reason to choose healthier pasta options that can benefit everyone without losing out on taste.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Myette-Côté É, Durrer C, Neudorf H, et al. The effect of a short-term low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet with or without postmeal walks on glycemic control and inflammation in type 2 diabetes: A randomized trial. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2018;315(6):R1210-R1219. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00240.2018
Di Stefano V, Pagliaro A, Del Nobile MA, et al. Lentil fortified spaghetti: technological properties and nutritional characterization.Foods. 2020;10(1):4. doi: 10.3390/foods10010004(Video) Good Health: Whole grains and type 2 diabetes
Zarzycki P, Sykut-Domańska E, Sobota A, et al. Flaxseed enriched pasta—chemical composition and cooking quality.Foods. 2020;9(4):404. doi: 10.3390/foods9040404
Harris WS, Tintle NL, Imamura F, et al.Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE). Blood n-3 fatty acid levels and total and cause-specific mortality from 17 prospective studies.Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 22;12(1):2329. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22370-2
Huang M, Lo K, Li J, et al. Pasta meal intake in relation to risks of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women : findings from the Women’s Health Initiative.BMJNPH. 2021;4(1):195-205. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000198
Zavitsanou S, Massa J, Deshpande S, et al. The effect of two types of pasta versus white rice on postprandial blood glucose levels in adults with type 1 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial.Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. 2019;21(9):485-492. doi: 10.1089/dia.2019.0109
By Stacey Hugues
Stacey Hugues, RD is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who works as a neonatal dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
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Can a diabetic eat whole wheat pasta? ›
You can still eat pasta if you have diabetes. Just keep an eye on your serving size. Compared to white pasta, whole wheat pasta provides more fiber, vitamins, and minerals while lowering blood sugar surges.How much whole wheat pasta can a diabetic eat? ›
A diabetic patient should take only whole wheat to keep blood sugar levels in control. Although whole wheat pasta does not harm most people, overconsumption can cause sluggish digestion, water retention, or bloating. Therefore, one must not exceed 1 to 2 servings a day.What is the best vegetable pasta for diabetics? ›
Some good options to try include zucchini, yellow summer squash, carrots, eggplant, peppers, and cabbage. Steam the ribbons so that they taste and feel like regular pasta. Enjoy a serving size of 1 1/2 cups of cooked veggie ribbons for only 15 grams of carbs.What type of pasta can a diabetic eat? ›
Choose Whole-Grain Pasta
“Whole-grain pasta can be a great option because it offers more fiber, which can help blunt blood sugar spikes,” Smithson says. Many typical white pasta noodles are fashioned with semolina flour, which is made by grinding a type of wheat known as durum, according to Bob's Red Mill.
The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread.Does whole wheat spike blood sugar? ›
“Whole grains are absolutely preferred over refined, but shouldn't be consumed in unlimited quantities said Dr. Devries. “Large amounts of even whole grains, including brown rice, can still spike blood glucose levels.”Can Type 2 diabetics eat whole wheat? ›
Whole-grain foods contain a variety of beneficial nutrients, and research shows they are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. For those with diabetes, choosing whole grains over refined grains can help to maintain optimum blood sugar readings.What time should a diabetic stop eating at night? ›
Try to go 10 to 12 hours each night without eating, Sheth advises. For instance, if you eat breakfast at 8:30 a.m. every morning, that means capping your nighttime meals and snacks between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. each night.Does whole wheat pasta turn into sugar? ›
Pasta is high in carbs, with a one-cup serving of cooked spaghetti containing between 37–43 grams, depending on whether it is refined or whole-grain (6, 7). Carbs are broken down quickly into glucose in the bloodstream, which results in a sharp rise in blood sugar.What is the healthiest vegetable pasta? ›
- Whole-Wheat Pasta. Whole-wheat pasta is an easy-to-find nutritious noodle that will bump up the nutrition of your pasta dish. ...
- Chickpea Pasta. ...
- Veggie Noodles. ...
- Red Lentil Pasta. ...
- Soba Noodles. ...
- White Pasta.
Should people with type 2 diabetes eat pasta? ›
People with diabetes can eat pasta but should choose whole grain types and watch their portion size. Diabetes-friendly pasta recipes may include alternative types of pasta, along with healthy vegetables, protein, and low-fat sauces.What spaghetti sauce is OK for diabetics? ›
Red pasta sauces like marinara or classic tomato are other great options, “as they are lower in overall fat and calories” than cream-based sauces, says Jana Mowrer, RDN, MPH, CDCES, a nutritionist based in Fresno, California. Just stick with a serving size that's one-half to three-quarters of a cup, she adds.How often should a diabetic eat pasta? ›
As a carbohydate-containing food, pasta is safe to consume when following a diabetic diet; however, because 1/3 cup equals 15 grams of carbohydrate, the amount of pasta in one meal should not exceed 1 cup, or 45 grams of carbohydrate.Is Barilla protein pasta good for diabetics? ›
Try a lower-carbohydrate pasta
Barilla ProteinPLUS and Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest are not exactly low-carb, but they contain whole grains (Barilla ProteinPLUS also contains legumes), which may be better for your glucose.
Lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, protects cells. Consuming whole tomatoes is a healthy alternative for diabetics compared to ketchup or sauce. If you are diabetic, you can add one tablespoon to your daily diet plan. Pasta and any other dish can be prepared with tomato sauce.Are Cheerios good for diabetics? ›
Plain Cheerios are the best choice for a diabetic diet. Why? Because the flavored versions are much higher in sugar and won't provide the same benefits. It's best to stick with the whole grain, plain-flavored version so that you don't risk a spike in blood sugar in the morning.Is whole wheat good for A1C? ›
The results indicated that consumption of whole-wheat bread for 12 weeks can significantly reduce body weight, and HbA1c, triglyceride, total cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) levels, and increase high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) levels (P<0.05).Is Sweet Potato good for diabetics? ›
Sweet potatoes have a sterling nutritional profile, making them a great food for people with diabetes. Here's how to start incorporating them into your diet. Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular foods for diabetes at Everyday Health, and with good reason.Is 200 blood sugar normal after eating? ›
Less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L ) is normal. 140 to 199 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L and 11.0 mmol/L ) is diagnosed as prediabetes. 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L ) or higher after two hours suggests diabetes.What is the best bread to lower blood sugar? ›
Choose whole grain varieties — the first ingredient on the label should be “whole.” Examples include whole wheat, whole oat, and whole rye. Look for bread that contains at least three grams of fiber per slice.
What foods keep your blood sugar stable? ›
- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is a type of isothiocyanate that has blood-sugar-reducing properties. ...
- Seafood. ...
- Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. ...
- Nuts and nut butter. ...
- Okra. ...
- Flax seeds. ...
- Beans and lentils. ...
- Kimchi and sauerkraut.
According to Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Coach Shilpa Arora, "Amaranth, buckwheat and ragi are the best flours to use in case you are a diabetic. Atta from these flours is low in carbohydrate content that makes it effective to maintain blood sugar levels.What cheese can you eat with diabetes? ›
- Goat cheese. Goat cheese may be the healthiest cheese option for people with type 2 diabetes. ...
- Cottage cheese. ...
- Romano cheese. ...
- Cheddar cheese. ...
- Feta cheese. ...
- Mozzarella cheese.
Popcorn is a very popular and healthy whole-grain snack food. It has been deemed a suitable snack food for people with diabetes, partly because of its low calorie density. One cup (8 grams) of air-popped popcorn contains just 31 calories.What is the best bedtime drink for diabetics? ›
A: Drinking apple cider vinegar at bedtime can help diabetic people control their blood glucose levels. A diabetic patient should take one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water before sleep. It can also aid in the regulation of fasting blood sugar levels in the morning.Why is my blood sugar high when I have not eaten anything? ›
Skipping meals can actually increase your blood glucose levels. If your body doesn't get a regular supply of energy from food, your liver may panic and start releasing glucose into your bloodstream. This glucose can come from stored liver glycogen or can be newly synthesized from protein.How long does it take for pasta to raise blood sugar? ›
Usually, blood sugar starts to rise 10-15 minutes after a meal and reaches its peak after an hour.What kind of pasta is low glycemic? ›
Durum wheat pasta is considered a low-glycemic index (GI) food.How long does it take for pasta to turn into sugar? ›
Carbohydrate food: most is changed to sugar within 1 1/2 hours after eating.What's a good pasta replacement? ›
- Shirataki (konjac) noodles. These "miracle noodles" pique the interest of health-conscious consumers because they are very low in calories. ...
- Spaghetti squash. ...
- Kelp noodles. ...
- Spiralized vegetables. ...
- Mung bean noodles. ...
- Red lentil pasta. ...
- Chickpea pasta. ...
- Quinoa pasta.
Which is better veggie pasta or whole wheat? ›
If you're looking to cut back on calories and lose weight, maybe choose the carrot "noodles." But if you're looking to boost your protein intake or need more fiber in your diet, opt for the whole wheat.What can a diabetic eat at an Italian restaurant? ›
The best bet for entrees at an Italian restaurant is to stick to the grilled fish and meat specials, and to ask for veggies on the side instead of pasta. Mexican Fare: Good appetizers might include salad or black bean soup.Can diabetics eat any pasta? ›
Yes, you can eat pasta when you have diabetes. While pasta is a high-carb food, it can be safely consumed when paired with high-fiber options and lean proteins, and properly portioned out.Does pasta raise blood sugar? ›
Pasta, potatoes and rice... are all carbohydrates that cause a surge in blood glucose levels as they are broken down. For people with diabetes, these surges in glucose can be tricky to manage and cause problems over time.What kind of tomato sauce can diabetics eat? ›
Diabetics can eat spaghetti sauce. Its ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs such as oregano can help maintain blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. However, commercially available spaghetti sauce may be high in added sugar. Opt for a spaghetti sauce that is low in sugar and fats and high in fibre.Can a diabetic eat spaghetti and meatballs? ›
Yes, you can eat pasta if you have diabetes. Pasta is a source of carbohydrate with 1/3 cup cooked pasta containing 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 carb choice).Can diabetics eat macaroni and cheese? ›
These types of carbs are digested more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels even. Even comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese can be diabetes-friendly!Can a diabetic have pizza? ›
The short answer to this question is yes, people with diabetes can enjoy all types of pizza. However, it's a good idea for all people, not just those with diabetes, to limit their intake of pizza.How should diabetics cook pasta? ›
Cook pasta so it's al dente
The longer pasta is cooked for, the more it's broken down. This releases more sugars from the pasta and ultimately results in higher blood sugar levels. The best diabetic pastas are prepared al dente, so cook your pasta so that it's still relatively hard, rather than being soft and mushy.
Like most foods with starchy carbohydrates, egg noodles are not great for your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Can diabetics eat whole wheat pasta? ›
You can still eat pasta if you have diabetes. Just keep an eye on your serving size. Compared to white pasta, whole wheat pasta provides more fiber, vitamins, and minerals while lowering blood sugar surges.Is there such thing as sugar free pasta? ›
Wonder Noodles 4 Pack Keto Pasta, | Zero Carb Noodles, | Kosher, Vegan Friendly, No Sugar, No Fat, | Ready to Eat, Paleo Pasta | 2 Fettuccine, 2 Spaghetti (56 Oz.)Which is better for diabetics egg noodles or pasta? ›
Based on the GL, egg noodles are slightly better than white pasta, but not dramatically so. Both types are likely to increase your blood sugar levels.Can diabetics eat mayonnaise? ›
Yes, a person with diabetes can eat mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has less than a single gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon. But with 10 grams of total fat (1.6 grams of that coming from saturated fat) it can be considered high fat. So you may want to limit the amount of mayonnaise you eat or find an alternative.Can a diabetic have ketchup? ›
"While ketchup may contain sugar and salt, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) will not provide enough sugar or salt to be of concern," says Brown-Riggs.Is chili sauce OK for diabetics? ›
1 – It reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Research has shown that hot chilli peppers can be highly beneficial for those suffering from diabetes. Hot sauce can help to reduce the amount of insulin needed to digest food, translating into a lowered overall level of blood sugar.
If you do have diabetes, wholegrain foods are usually better for managing blood glucose levels because they tend to have a lower glycaemic index (GI).Is whole wheat pasta better than white pasta for diabetics? ›
Whole-wheat pasta tends to have lower Glycemic Index (GI scores) than its refined semolina counterpart. This is helpful for diabetics who still want to eat pasta! Whole-wheat pasta, compared to traditional refined pasta, reduces the impact on blood sugar because of its protein and fiber content.Is whole wheat pasta a bad carb? ›
Whole wheat pasta is healthier than white pasta, because it comes straight from whole grains (you'll likely see whole wheat flour as the main item on the ingredient list) and therefore is packed with nutrients such as complex carbs, protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc.What type of pasta has the lowest glycemic index? ›
Durum wheat pasta is considered a low-glycemic index (GI) food.
Can Type 2 diabetics eat pasta? ›
People with diabetes can eat pasta but should choose whole grain types and watch their portion size. Diabetes-friendly pasta recipes may include alternative types of pasta, along with healthy vegetables, protein, and low-fat sauces.What is the healthiest version of pasta? ›
Bean-based pastas have the most fiber
Dried pastas made from chickpeas, lentils or black beans have more protein and fiber than regular pasta. That's because this type of pasta is made from beans.
Pasta, potatoes and rice... are all carbohydrates that cause a surge in blood glucose levels as they are broken down. For people with diabetes, these surges in glucose can be tricky to manage and cause problems over time.Is chickpea pasta or whole wheat pasta better for diabetics? ›
Chickpea pasta, along with other bean- and legume-based pastas, offers more fiber and protein than both white and wheat pastas. Thus, it's likely better for blood sugar management than other pastas ( 7 , 8 , 9 ).Are sweet potatoes good for diabetics? ›
Sweet potatoes have a sterling nutritional profile, making them a great food for people with diabetes. Here's how to start incorporating them into your diet. Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular foods for diabetes at Everyday Health, and with good reason.How much pasta can a diabetic eat? ›
How much pasta can someone with diabetes eat? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that people can count carbs or use the Diabetes Plate Method to portion pasta. If using the Plate Method, people should eat no more than a quarter plate of pasta. It also states that a portion of cooked pasta is a half-cup.What can you use instead of pasta? ›
- Spaghetti Squash. Spaghetti squash is an excellent pasta substitute. ...
- Spiralized Vegetables. ...
- Eggplant Lasagna. ...
- Cabbage Noodles. ...
- Cauliflower Couscous. ...
- Celeriac Couscous. ...
- Sprouts. ...
- Onion Noodles.
Yes, you can eat pasta when you have diabetes. While pasta is a high-carb food, it can be safely consumed when paired with high-fiber options and lean proteins, and properly portioned out.