Whole Wheat Pasta Glycemic Index

Wheat Glycemic Index


What is a Whole Wheat Grain?


All grains start life as whole grains.  

In the natural state growing in the fields, whole grains are the entire seeds of the plant.   This seed (which industry calls a "kernel") is made up of three key edible parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm – protected by an inedible husk that protects the kernel from assaults by sunlight, pests, water, and disease.

Whole Grain Seed

The Bran

The bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber.

The Germ

The germ is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant. It contains many B vitamins, some protein, minerals, and healthy fats.

 The Endosperm

The endosperm is the germ’s food supply, which provides essential energy to the young plant so it can send roots down for water and nutrients, and send sprouts up for sunlight’s photosynthesizing power. The endosperm is by far the largest portion of the kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.


Whole Grains are Healthier

Whole grains contain all three parts of the wheat kernel without any refining.   Refining the wheat kernel normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm.   Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients.   Therefore, whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more fiber and many important vitamins and minerals.


The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is usually measured on a scale from 1 to 100.   Foods with scores of less than 55 are considered "low GI;" scores of 55-69 are "medium," and 70+ is pegged as "high."

The glycemic index is a measure of how much carbohydrate-containing foods or drinks raise blood sugar levels after eating.    Foods and beverages with high GI scores are more quickly digested by the body and cause a sharper spike in blood sugar.   Those with low GI scores are digested more slowly and raise blood sugar more gradually.    Whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat pasta typically have a lower GI ranking than their more processed counterparts.

Therefore, it is important for runners to consume foods with a lower GI rating in order for the food energy to release into the body gradually over a longer time span giving the body the energy it needs for the run.

Refined grains that have had the bran and the germ removed have a higher GI than whole grains.


Whole Wheat Pasta

The average glycemic index for whole-wheat pasta is around 31, compared with white pasta, which has an average GI of 42.   This relatively slight difference is due to pasta’s physical composition.   Both regular pasta and whole-wheat pasta cause a slower rise in blood sugar because the starches are physically trapped in the protein molecules leading to a slower release of sugars into the body during digestion.   

While both of these are low-GI foods, eating the whole-wheat pasta is a better choice nutritionally and for running, as it contains more protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber than regular white pasta.    Pastas that claim to be multigrain or made with whole wheat may include refined grains.    Therefore, it is recommended to read the product label in order to decipher if it is whole grain or processed refined grains.   For the best nutrition, choose pasta that is 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain, with whole grains listed as the first ingredient.


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