Orzo pasta looks a great deal like rice or barley grains, so much that the name orzo means barley in Italian. However, this pasta is not made of barley, but of semolina flour. Orzo pasta nutrition will differ based on whether or not it's made with refined or whole wheat flour.
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What Is Orzo Pasta?
Numerous types of pasta originate from Italian cuisine. Orzo refers to one of these — a barley grain-shaped pasta. Orzo is primarily made out of semolina flour, but you may also find other flours mixed into this product depending on the manufacturer.
Semolina flour is made of durum wheat. It's coarser than other flours, resulting in products that have slightly firmer textures. Semolina flour is also used to make foods like couscous, bulgur, freekeh, breads and desserts.
Like other wheat products, semolina flour can be made as a refined or whole grain product. You can purchase both refined orzo or whole wheat orzo, which means that the particular orzo's nutritional information will differ accordingly.
According to the Mayo Clinic, whole grain products are healthier than refined grain products. Like other whole grain products, whole wheat orzo's nutrition is richer in dietary fiber. Whole grain products typically have more benefits for your health.
Read more: 16 Diet-Friendly Healthful Carbs
Orzo Pasta Nutrition Facts
A standard serving of orzo pasta is around 2 ounces (56.7 grams). If you're looking at refined semolina flour products, orzo pasta nutrition has around 200 calories per 2-ounce serving. This pasta also has 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of protein and 42 grams of carbohydrates. Out of these carbohydrates, 3 grams come from dietary fiber.
As with other refined products, refined orzo pasta is usually enriched. For example, Barilla's orzo pasta is enriched with ribovflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), folic acid (vitamin B9) and iron. This results in it having:
- 10 percent of the daily value (DV) for iron
- 15 percent of the DV for riboflavin
- 40 percent of the DV for thiamin
- 30 percent of the DV for niacin
- 50 percent of the DV for folic acid
In comparison, Delallo's whole wheat orzo nutrition has fewer calories (190 per 2-ounce serving). It also has 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of protein and 37 grams of carbohydrates. Each serving of whole wheat orzo's nutrition features 4 grams of dietary fiber.
There isn't much whole wheat orzo nutritional information listed. As an unenriched product, whole wheat orzo nutrition has just 8 percent of the DV for iron and 5 percent of the DV for potassium.
Fiber and Your Gastrointestinal Health
Although orzo pasta's nutrition has more essential vitamins and minerals compared to whole grain orzo's nutrition, you may still want to consider consuming whole grain orzo.
This is because, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most people don't consume enough fiber. While an extra gram of fiber may not seem like a lot, you only need around 25 grams of fiber a day, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Unfortunately, most people don't consume anywhere near this amount. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that the average American only ingests around 15 grams each day. This means that every additional gram of fiber you consume is important.
Fiber is important because it plays a role in your gastrointestinal health. Your fiber consumption can help you reduce your risk for various diseases. These include conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and diverticular disease.