Protein pasta has some advantages over traditional pasta. Provides fewer carbohydrates and more fiber, while maintaining incredible flavor and versatility in the kitchen.
Pasta is one of the most loved foods, by young and old alike. The shelves of the shops are more assorted every day: wholemeal pasta, with vegetables, with multigrain, gluten-free … Protein pasta is one of the latest arrivals and already conquers with its particular flavor.
Unlike traditional pasta, it contains more protein and fiber, a benefit for many. It can also be found in a gluten-free version.
It is not the case to exchange the old semolina pasta with protein pasta, but it is interesting to discover its characteristics and merits.
What is protein pasta?
Protein pasta is exactly what the name suggests: a variety of pasta that has more protein in its composition than the traditional one (non-wholemeal semolina pasta).
Two different types can be distinguished. On the one hand, the pasta is made from legume flour, usually lentils, peas and chickpeas. They contain between 18 and 25 grams of protein and around 10-15 grams of fiber, depending on the ingredients.
There are also wheat flour pastes enriched with protein isolates (soy or peas) and with fibers. They offer a lot more protein (some as high as 60%), contain more ingredients, and, sometimes, some additives.
In both cases, the consistency is slightly different from that of traditional pasta, and therefore it is necessary to experiment with cooking times. However, it is delicious and very versatile food in the kitchen.
Fusilli, spaghetti, and penne, with protein pasta you can prepare typical recipes: salads, gratins, sautéed pasta with an infinite variety of sauces, vegetables, and sauces.
Benefits of protein pasta
Protein pasta can be a good option for those who do not eat meat and legumes as it helps to reach the recommended daily allowance of protein.
Extra supply of fiber
The composition of protein pasta is in principle more interesting than any refined semolina pasta. This is as long as it is unrefined legume flour or wholemeal flour.
The notable aspect is the greater amount of protein, minerals, and fiber compared to regular pasta. This is especially interesting in the case of fiber, which must be abundant in the diet.
Dietary fiber helps regulate intestinal transit and is satiating. Additionally, high-fiber diets have been linked to a lower risk of widespread diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, or type 2 diabetes.
Most protein pasta contains 20-25 grams (minimum) of protein per 100 grams of dry pasta. For this reason, they can be considered a good source of protein such as cooked legumes, tofu, eggs, or meat.
Protein is a macronutrient necessary for the body. They are essential because they enter the composition of antibodies, digestive enzymes, and cells, carry molecules through the body, or act as a messenger.
A greater variety of proteins
Protein pasta offers a wider range of protein, which is good for those who find it difficult to consume other foods that provide it.
Ideal in low carbohydrate diets
Carbohydrates are another macronutrient necessary for the body, such as proteins and fats. However, on some occasions, it may be necessary to follow low-carb diets.
Studies have focused on evaluating potential benefits in terms of weight loss, risk of metabolic disease, or non-alcoholic fatty liver.
Pasta with legumes and, above all, pasta with added proteins are ideal for those who want to consume fewer carbohydrates.
Better digestibility than legumes
For many people, eating legumes is synonymous with indigestion or abdominal gas. There are those who resort to tricks to make them more digestible, while those who decide to completely eliminate them from the diet.
For the latter, legume pasta is a good alternative, as is hummus or legume purees. This is because they typically don’t carry any kind of digestive problem.
Ideal in case of increased protein requirement
Generally, meeting your daily protein requirement is not difficult. However, more protein pasta can be useful when your needs for this macronutrient have increased. This is the case of athletes or people who perform intense physical activity.
Also, when following very low calorie diets, the daily protein needs may not be met. This also usually happens in older people with less appetite or difficulty eating. We must not forget that in these cases, proteins are a fundamental nutrient for preventing muscle loss.
In all these cases, replacing the usual wheat pasta with a protein can be a good strategy that helps cover the recommended daily amounts of protein.
They usually do not contain gluten
This is undoubtedly interesting for people with celiac disease, as it broadens the range of possibilities beyond rice, quinoa, or corn. However, care should be taken with protein-enriched pasta, as it usually contains semolina flour.
It is a complete dish
Thanks to its higher protein content than conventional pasta, a protein pasta dish can be a complete meal on its own. This means, for example, that it is not necessary to follow it with meat or fish. However, it is essential to add a portion of vegetables to the menu, both as a condiment and as an appetizer.
Protein pasta can be accompanied by different sauces, such as pesto.
A dish with an incomparable flavor and aroma. It is also very quick to prepare and can be changed to a vegan version. To prepare 4 servings you need the following ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts.
- A bunch of fresh basil.
- 50 grams of Parmesan.
- 1 clove of garlic.
- 150 milliliters of extra virgin olive oil (approximately).
- 350-400 grams of chickpea paste (or any other legume paste).
- Put a saucepan with plenty of water on the stove.
- When it starts to boil, add the salt and pasta.
- Cook for about 7 minutes or the time indicated on the package.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Put the pine nuts, basil leaves, grated cheese, and peeled garlic clove (if you like the flavor) into the blender glass. Gradually add the oil and blend until you reach the desired consistency . It doesn’t have to be homogeneous, it can even be coarser.
- Season the pasta and decorate with a few basil leaves . It can be accompanied by a green salad or a vegetable cream.
- To prepare the vegan version, replace the cheese with nutritional yeast (between 4 and 6 tablespoons).
- Additionally, pine nuts can be swapped for cashews or walnuts.