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Why White Pasta is Bad For You

Why White Pasta is Bad for You

It’s a maybe not so well known fact that has been repeatedly born out by numerous scientific studies into the negative health effects of a variety of food items in the modern Western diets, that eating white pasta is bad for you! It’s probably something that you don’t want to hear, especially if white pasta forms a big part of your regular diet. But the stark truth is that if you are eating a lot of pasta, then chances are you are overweight and may not realise the reason why.

It might not have occurred to you that this innocent looking pile of starchy yellowish doughy shapes sitting on your plate under a healthy looking tomato based sauce might contain hidden dangers to your health as well as to any weight loss programs you might be engaged upon. This hub page will therefore look at some of the reasons why you should avoid white pasta and even exclude it from your diet altogether.

Why You Should Exclude White Pasta From Your Diet


One of the main reasons why you should avoid white pasta in your diet is because this popular staple is made largely from refined white flour. Refined white flour in itself contains almost no dietary goodness in itself and its consumption can have negative effects on health, as we shall see. By the way, before I go any further, I'm only talking about the pasta itself here and not any sauce that you might add to it. Popular pasta sauces are usually tomato based and contain such herbs as oregano and basil and lend themselves to the Mediterranean diet type of thing. But I digress. Back to the bad stuff...

Eating white pasta can be likened to eating cardboard, because although it tastes a little better, cardboard probably contains more goodness! The lack of nutrients in white pasta may not make it such a bad thing to eat on its own, but it’s the bad constituents of white pasta that make it such a bad deal when it comes to your general health and weight.

First of all, in a similar fashion to white bread, white pasta contains a large amount of high GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates. That means that the carbohydrates contained in pasta made from refined white flour will release sugars into the bloodstream quickly. This causes a steep rise in blood sugar and a similarly steep reactive rise in the body’s sugar regulating hormone, insulin in order to counter its effects. This is something that diabetics must avoid and is something that in itself can trigger type II diabetes to manifest in a person who eats a lot of white pasta a lot of the time.

The effect on the body’s metabolism is to slow it down, while inhibiting efficient digestion. The result is more fat storage, with those fat cells generally being deposited around the belly. This, as you have probably already figured out is a leading cause of weight gain in people who eat a lot of refined flour products, not least of those being white pasta.

Other Negative Health Aspects of Consuming White Pasta

Eating a lot of white pasta will also raise your blood’s levels of the bad LDL cholesterol. This in turn can lead to heart disease, narrowing of, or blockages in the arteries, which can lead to thrombosis (blood clots) and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a known cause of strokes as well as a plethora of other health problems that need a medical encyclopaedia to do justice to!

Thrombosis can lead to heart attacks if blood clots are allowed to form in the arteries and veins that subsequently become mobile in the bloodstream and find their way into the heart muscles.

As you can see, there are plenty of very good reasons for excluding this type of pasta from your diet, or at least cutting it down to an infrequent treat. But it’s not all bad news, as there are alternatives to this staple foodstuff of many households.

Alternatives to White Pasta

You can replace your unhealthy, refined white flour product with brown pasta. Brown pasta is made from wholegrain (otherwise known as wholewheat, or wholemeal) flour. This is the same stuff that is used to make wholemeal (brown) bread and it is far better for you in terms of general health and your waistline too. That’s because the wholegrain flour that is used to make it contains far lower levels of high GI carbohydrates and higher levels of low GI carbs, which work in the opposite way to high GI carbs.

In this sense, the low GI carbohydrates contained in wholemeal pasta cause a slow release of sugars into the bloodstream. This avoids the need to release insulin into the bloodstream, meaning you can burn off the sugars at a more leisurely rate. This improves metabolism and stimulates the digestive system, meaning more of what you eat is digested fully leading to less fat being stored. Good news for those trying to lose weight and good news for diabetics or those worried about the potential onset of type II diabetes.

Wholemeal flour products such as brown pasta also contain high levels of dietary fibre, which is essential for the complete digestion of food and waste elimination, meaning it is good for your colon’s health too.

Wholemeal four products also contain much lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol and higher levels of good HDL cholesterol, meaning it helps to keep your arteries clear, reducing the potential for blood clots and heart disease as well as keeping blood pressure at normal levels reducing the chances of strokes and other related illnesses.

Lastly, brown pasta tastes similar to the white variety except is doesn’t tend to have that cloying, pasty texture associated with white pasta. When you make the switch to brown pasta, you soon grow accustomed to it and will find yourself preferring it for its better taste, health benefits and overall goodness as part of a healthy diet.

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Janice White (author) from England on July 16, 2012:

Lendrix, thank you for your update. I did examine my research before I wrote this article and I stand by what I wrote: refined white flour is a high GI carb.

Lendrix on July 14, 2012:

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Janice -

I must reinterate what user "Vitamink" stated earlier, which you dismissed via the self affirming response, "pasta is made from refined white flour, which is a high glycemic carbohydrate."

While this is true, how the pasta is prepared makes a substantial difference. Generally, the firmer, or densely packed pasta is preparred the longer it takes to digest and release said sugars into the bloodstream.

Al dente pasta has a low to medium GI rating, pasta prepared via the typical package instructions (10-12 mins) has a medium GI rating, and pasta cooked for 20-40 mins, or as Vitamink referred to it as "mushy" has a high GI rating.

Your article refers to all white pasta as being at an extremely high rating based on the fallacy that all prepared white pasta is the same because it has the same ingredients.

I suggest you examine your research further especially when authoring an article titled, "Why White Pasta is Bad for You". Maybe after said research, you might opt to edit and rename your article, "How White Pasta Can be Bad for You"?

- Just trying to help, I did come across this article while studying nutritional value of white pasta after all. And I loathe misinformation, especially during election season.

Janice White (author) from England on March 25, 2012:

Hi Mick, someone close to me also suffers gout and the attacks can be horrendous. He changed his diet radically to avoid so many foods that hi own research turned up could be causing raised uric acid levels in the blood - the cause of not only gout but also arthritis.

Despite the diet changes which have been ongoing for many years, attacks still happen occasionally. Doctors don't have an answer and he has done just about everything to his diet possible to minimise it. Incidentally, taking bicarbonate of soda has a positive effect and dramatically shortens the length of the attacks.

Stress is an unknown quantity and a possible cause of flair-ups where diet is not. There is very little information to go on so its hard to know for sure.

While white flour based foods such as white pasta are not on the "bad" list for gout, they have other health issues, one being weight gain. Being overweight is another thing that's certainly not desirable during a gout attack.

Mick and his Diet on March 19, 2012:

Hi Janice;

I am a gout sufferer. I always get conflicting information from websites, dieticians and even doctors about what I should and should not eat.

I have been a whole wheat lover for a long time but recently convinced that in my particular case, white bread and white pasta are better for my overall health. Of course, like any diet that means in healthy moderation.

Just wanted to share that info and see if you agree or not that having white pasta in specialised diets might be appropriate.

Janice White (author) from England on March 11, 2012:

vitamink, pasta is made from refined white flour, which is a high glycemic carbohydrate. Maybe you missed that part of the article.

vitamink from miami fl on March 07, 2012:

white pasta is not high glycemic unless it is cooked until its mushy. It should be cooked until al dente or just as it turns soft enough to eat. If you eat a nice salad with your pasta I wouldn't worry about it clogging up your intestines.

Hoop builder on February 02, 2011:

I had no clue about this. My wife is a health guru so she might know.

Jimmy Fuentes from Rancho Cucamonga on October 18, 2010:

Just 2 nights ago I bought a whole grain pasta that on the box read "glycemic resistant" or something like that . I forget the brand, but the flavor was good and it had a high fiber content. Not sure whether or not their claims about glycemic resistance are legit.

Thanks for the hub

fucsia on May 19, 2010:

Good hub!!! the white pasta also slows down intestinal function because it has no fiber. maintain a clean bowel is necessary to better absorb nutrients derived from food and to stay healthy

katrinasui on April 28, 2010:

Oh! I love pasta but after reading this hub i think i should not eat it anymore.

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on February 08, 2010:

Good hub again. I like white pasta, but I know you're right. We usually eat 100% whole wheat pasta or rice.

Janice White (author) from England on December 16, 2009:

Hi Jennifer, me too although it took some time at first. Once you get used to it, you wonder why you ever ate and believed you liked all that processed rubbish before!

jenniferhughs on December 15, 2009:

I am a big fan of whole wheat everything. I have slowly trained my whole family to make the switch from wehite to brown - pasta, bread, etc.

ciidoctor on November 20, 2009:

very useful info

Janice White (author) from England on September 30, 2009:

@ jorgecompaq it depends what else you're eating. Triglycerides are fatty substances that become stored in the body and are produced normally in the body.

Their level gets high when there is too much sugar getting into the bloodstream followed by a fast insulin response. That comes from eating high GI foods of which there are loads, such as anything produced from refined white flour, sweets and candies, refined sugar (including that added to coffee or tea), soda drinks and cordials, alcohol mixers.... the list is long and you have to check the labels of stuff.

jorgecompaq on September 29, 2009:

After finding out I had high cholesterol, I decided to change my diet and went on the Mediterranean Diet. I began going to the gym and began exercising daily. Since then I have noticed that my cholesterol has gone down (including weight) and am in better shape. however, one thing that ended up happening was that my triglycerides went up. Do you know why this is so?

Janice White (author) from England on September 26, 2009:

I haven't come across brown rice pasta here, but I'll see if I can source some. Brown rice itself takes some getting used to, but its another good source of nutrition - better than refined white rice and the topic of another hub, perhaps?

Tanya Fairbanks on September 25, 2009:

Loving your hubs. I love brown rice pasta and wish I would have started eating it years ago. My kids eat it too!

Janice White (author) from England on August 14, 2009:

Hi partluck, with my common surname, I've probably got loads of cousins spread out all over the place LOL. Cheers to you too!

partluck from Edison, NJ on August 13, 2009:

Janice you are not only my English cousin (I'm a Yank of course), but you are a kindred spirit in the food department. I love your diet related blogs, so Cheers to our better health!

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