Rice Noodles Versus Pasta: Which is Better for Your Health?

Noodles originated in the Far East about 5,000 years ago, and they have been a staple food in the region ever since, from China and Singapore to Thailand to Japan. Across the continent, people buy rice noodles in their millions, making them the second most popular rice product in Asia. The main ingredient in this type of noodle is flour made from rice, which is a very widely used alternative to garam flour, particularly in Southern China.

The story of pasta was always thought to be linked to the noodles of Asia, although the accepted belief that the explorer Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy from his travels in the 13th Century is questionable. It's a great story, but there's plenty of evidence that pasta was already a common part of the Mediterranean diet centuries earlier.

It looks like we're dealing with two very similar food items that probably originated and evolved independently of one another, which is why it's important to consider thoroughly their competing claims as healthy foods.

Should you buy rice noodles or pasta?

Noodles are made from both white rice flour and brown rice flour. These noodles do not contain wheat or gluten, which makes them ideal for celiacs and those who suffer from gluten allergies. This is a more significant benefit than you might think because gluten intolerance is believed to be far more widespread than commonly understood as it is frequently undiagnosed. If you don't even know you suffer from it, you won't know you can do anything to ease it.

Of the two types, brown rice noodles benefit from the unrefined nature of brown rice flour, which means its natural germ and bran has not been stripped by processing, leaving its fiber and B vitamin content uncompromised. The white variety is healthy, but brown is even healthier.

Pasta is made by a very similar process, but it contains wheat and therefore gluten. This means that for millions of people, it is a food to be avoided. If we look at factors such as calories, carbs and protein, rice noodles and pasta are pretty much tied. However, while pasta can contain as much as 2 grams of sugar per serving, rice noodles are virtually sugar-free.

What added benefits do you get when you buy rice noodles?


Where rice noodles really excel is in the provision of essential minerals. First, there is manganese, a mineral your metabolism needs to help regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation. Rice noodles are also rich in selenium, an antioxidant that helps to protect your body from the risk of cancer, heart disease and many other serious illnesses. Finally, there is phosphorus. This helps with the storage and efficient use of energy and is important for healthy kidney function. It also works with calcium to maintain the health and strength of your bones and teeth.

Ultimately, the true test is taste. Everyone loves pasta, but when we take into consideration the health benefits as well, rice noodles are hard to beat when you want a truly delicious, quick and nutritious meal.