You may have noticed a new addition to the pasta aisle lately. It may have started as one or two boxes, but has bloomed into an ever-growing selection. These pastas come in some unusual colors, like jade green or scarlet red. Yep, we’re talking about pasta made from beans.
Previously, most pastas were made from durum wheat flour. Even the gluten-free pastas were made from common grains like brown rice flour or corn flour. Now, more and more companies are releasing pasta that’s made from beans and pulses, like black beans, chickpeas, or red and green lentils.
It’s hard to imagine beans transforming into spaghetti, but these legumes are actually pretty starchy. You can make a flour out of them and shape them into pasta, just like you would with wheat. Surprisingly, once cooked, these bean-based pastas can achieve a nice al dente texture, and after coating them with your favorite sauce, they don’t taste like beans.
You also might notice that the boxes for these colorful pastas are boasting of several nutrition benefits.
First of all, bean-based pastas are a great option for people with dietary restrictions. They are acceptable for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, and wheat allergies, and they are also egg-free, which means they’re suitable for vegans as well.
But it’s not just people on gluten-free diets who can benefit from pasta made from beans. Check out how these pastas compare nutritionally to whole-wheat pasta:
Protein: A 2-ounce serving of black bean pasta contains 13 grams of protein. The same amount of whole-wheat pasta has 9 grams.
Fiber: A 2-ounce serving of red lentil pasta contains 11 grams of fiber. The same amount of whole-wheat pasta has 4 grams.
Iron: A 2-ounce serving of chickpea pasta contains 5.4 milligrams of iron. The same amount of whole-wheat pasta has 1.8 milligrams. (Here are more great sources of iron.)
Bean-based pastas might be known for being higher in protein, but they’re still mostly carbohydrates. However, their high-fiber content makes these noodles easier on blood sugar levels, and they may help keep you full longer.
So if you eat pasta on the reg, try switching it up occasionally and working a bean-based pasta in your rotation. It’s an easy way to vary your food—and therefore your nutrient intake. Here are more tips for healthy ways to enjoy carbs.