Pasta is one of the most popular foods around, with Americans consuming almost 6 billion pounds per year; however, with increasing knowledge about how limiting carbohydrate intake may be beneficial to your health, many people are looking for an alternative like egg noodles instead of pasta.
But, if you look at the carbs in egg noodles, you'll see that the amount is similar to that in regular pasta. In fact, when comparing pasta to egg noodles, nutrition is almost identical, although there are some minor differences. If you're looking for a healthier alternative to regular pasta, pasta made from vegetables is a better bet than egg noodles.
Egg Noodles vs. Pasta: Carbs
The word "pasta" is a broad term that's typically used to describe the Italian version, which is made from an unleavened dough combination of wheat, eggs and water. Egg noodles have the same base as regular pasta, but, as their name implies, they have more egg mixed in with the wheat and water.
This gives them their characteristic texture and allows them to hold heavy cream- or butter-based sauces. It doesn't necessarily make them a healthier option, though. Although the exact amount of carbohydrates in a serving of pasta depends on the shape and size of the noodles, gram for gram, the two are almost identical.
One hundred grams of regular dry pasta contains about 75 grams of carbohydrates, whereas the same 100 grams of egg noodles has approximately 71 grams of carbs. To put it into a more relatable perspective, a cup of penne pasta weighs about 92 grams and contains 71 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of spaghetti weighs 91 grams and contains 68 grams of carbohydrates. Egg noodles are a little lighter, weighing only 38 grams for each cup, which has 27 grams of carbohydrates.
For both types of pasta, a 100-gram serving contains just over 3 grams of fiber, so the difference is minimal. Regular pasta contains 3.2 grams of fiber, while egg noodles have 3.3 grams. However, if you opt for whole-grain pasta over regular refined pasta, the fiber content goes up to 7 grams.
Problems With Too Many Carbs
Although carbohydrates can have their place in a healthy, balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet, modern Western diets are typically very carbohydrate-heavy; and eating too many carbohydrates can increase your risk of developing chronic health problems.
One report, published in Metabolism in December 2013, monitored the effects of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet compared to the effects of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet in obese participants. Researchers found that the low-carbohydrate group had more significant reductions in triglycerides and C-reactive protein, a measurement of chronic inflammation. The low-carbohydrate group also had higher increases in good cholesterol and adiponectin, a hormone that helps balance blood sugar.
Another study, which was published in Genetics Research in December 2015, looked at refined carbohydrates, like white pasta and egg noodles, specifically. Researchers from the study concluded that eating too many of these types of carbohydrates can disrupt brain signaling and hunger cues and may cause people to overeat.
The researchers went on to say that a diet too high in refined carbohydrates is connected to increased visceral fat (the kind that lies deep in your belly) and higher blood lipids, as well.
Pasta vs. Egg Noodles: Calories
In addition to containing a lot of carbohydrates, the two versions of pasta are also moderately-high (and fairly similar) when it comes to calories, too. One hundred grams of regular pasta provides approximately 370 calories, while the same measurement of egg noodles contains closer to 385 calories. That's just for plain pasta, so the calorie count can change pretty significantly, depending on which kinds of toppings you add.
Because egg noodles contain more eggs than regular pasta, you may think that more of their calories would come from protein, but those numbers are almost identical too. A 100-gram portion of regular pasta offers 13 grams of protein, while egg noodles come in slightly higher, at just over 14 grams of protein for the same amount.
Aside from carbohydrates, calories and a small amount of protein, neither regular pasta nor egg noodles offers much else in terms of nutrition. They both have some magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, but are lacking in most other vitamins and minerals. You can up the nutritional value of your pasta or egg noodles by adding a vegetable-rich sauce or serving them with a side of roasted vegetables, but you may be better off ditching both and replacing them with another option.
Better Pasta Alternatives
If you're looking for a healthier alternative to traditional pasta, opt for pasta made from vegetables instead. Not only is vegetable "pasta" lower in carbohydrates, it's also lower in calories and higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, like carotenoids, which can reduce your risk of cancer, according to a July 2017 report in Nutrients.
One popular option is zucchini noodles, often referred to as "zoodles." You can make zucchini noodles with a vegetable spiralizer or simply use a vegetable peeler to create thin strips of zucchini that resemble thicker noodles, like fettuccine.
Another option is spaghetti squash. Although spaghetti squash is higher in carbohydrates than zucchini, it also contains more nutrients. Spaghetti squash is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber; and since spaghetti squash already peels away from the squash's skin in a way that resembles pasta, there's no extra preparation required. You can just roast the squash and have an easy pasta alternative ready in about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
You can also make "pasta" from beets or sweet potatoes, but keep in mind that these are higher-carbohydrate options. If you're looking to keep your carbohydrate intake low, you'll want to skip these two, but if you're OK with adding some healthy carbohydrates to your plate, they're good options. Although beets and sweet potatoes are still high in carbohydrates, they're also higher in fiber than regular pasta and egg noodles and contain more vitamins and minerals.
- Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter: "Beyond Pumpkin: Harvest the Health Benefits of Winter Squash"
- Nutrients: "Role of Zucchini and Its Distinctive Components in the Modulation of Degenerative Processes: Genotoxicity, Anti-Genotoxicity, Cytotoxicity and Apoptotic Effects"
- National Pasta Association: "Pasta Facts"
- National Pasta Association: "Egg Noodle (Medium and Wide)"
- PBS: "Uncover The History of Pasta"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Pasta, Dry, Unenriched"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Noodles, Egg, Dry, Unenriched"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Whole Grain Pasta"
- Metabolism: "Consuming a Hypocaloric High-Fat Low-Carbohydrate Diet for 12 Weeks Lowers C-Reactive Protein and Raises Serum Adiponectin and High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol in Obese Subjects"
- Genetics Research: "A Refined High Carbohydrate Diet Is Associated With Changes in the Serotonin Pathway and Visceral Obesity"