Glycemic index of pasta and noodles

Durum wheat pasta is an example of a low glycemic index food. Although there are exceptions (for example, instant noodles or rice noodles), most types of durum wheat pasta have a GI of 40 to 50 units.

In turn, the glycemic index of other types of pasta such as filled pasta is 55 to 65 units, that is, it is not that high. In addition, the rate of digestion of carbohydrates is also affected by the degree of doneness. Lightly cooked el dente whole wheat pasta has the lowest GI: around 35 units.

Glycemic index of pasta

The glycemic index is an indicator related to the rate of absorption of carbohydrates contained in a food. The higher the GI of a meal, the faster its carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the blood, which can lead to an overproduction of insulin.

On the other hand, there is the concept of the glycemic load that depends on the size of the portion, this is usually high in the case of pasta. Ultimately, it is both the glycemic index that matters and the amount of carbohydrates ingested. And that’s why pasta is so controversial as a health food.

The GI in food tables is always indicated for a serving containing 50 g of carbohydrates; In terms of pasta, pasta and noodles, this is about 65-70g (before cooking). However, the size of a standard serving is 80g more. Among other things, the sauces influence the GI, as well as the protein source with which it is accompanied.

Pasta insulin index

As a reminder, the glycemic index considers only carbohydrates in foods, without considering that proteins also affect insulin production. In fact, meat, poultry, and fish raise blood insulin levels, which is important for diabetics to consider.

It is for this reason that the glycemic index of pasta is unlikely to reflect the real impact on the production of this hormone. The tabular figure is probably just a mathematical calculation of the composition, that is, it only takes into account wheat flour and does not imply the effect of meat on insulin. To be more exact it is always better to check the insulin index .

Pasta in proper nutrition for diabetics

Clean water after boiling is one of the key indicators that pasta is low on the glycemic index. On the contrary, the softer the dough used to make the pasta, the easier it becomes to handle and the higher its glycemic index.

In addition, the choice of grain also influences. For example, gluten-free pasta made from rice or corn, while gluten-free, has a significantly higher glycemic index compared to regular wheat pasta.

Why does durum wheat have a lower GI?

Durum wheat pasta has a lower glycemic index than other types of pasta. Why is this happening? The molecular structure of durum wheat flour is an indigestible plexus of wheat protein (gluten) and long chains of glucose (starch).

In the pasta cooking process, the extrusion (extraction) of the wheat dough through a die (forming element in the die) leads to heating, which results in the formation of a protective film on the surface.

Subsequently, this film slows down the gelling of starches during cooking. This impacts the absorption of carbohydrates and therefore lowers the glycemic index.

Whole wheat pasta has a lower glycemic index

If whole wheat flour containing grain husk was used for making pasta, its glycemic index will be even lower, around 35 units. That is, a small portion of said product is acceptable not only for healthier nutrition, but also better for diabetics.

In contrast, common wheat pasta, instant noodles, as well as rice noodles and corn pasta, have a high glycemic index. While these foods may be gluten-free, they are not the healthiest in terms of carbohydrate quality.


In fact, pasta is an example of a low-glycemic food. However, it is important to consider both the serving size and the combination with the sauces, and especially the protein sources. The GI of meatballs and composite dishes can be significantly higher.

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