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Originally published October 22 2014

Three gluten-free, low calorie, healthy pasta noodles

by Jeanette Padilla

(NaturalNews) The average American eats about 20 pounds of pasta per year. One pound of cooked, plain pasta has about 600 calories; that's 12,000 calories in 20 pounds. While we have no regrets while eating those delicious carbs, it would take about 12 hours of running at 9 mph to get rid of those calories, and that is just if you eat plain pasta. Pasta that includes heavy sauces and cheese such as alfredo sauce really add on the calories; that's when the regret sets in. Eating large amounts of pasta not only leads to weight gain but also can lead to sluggish digestion, and constipation. If you're not ready to give up pasta just yet, try these three alternatives every now and then to curb your carb and calorie intake.

Shirataki noodles

These noodles are made from the konjac plant, also known as Japanese yam. Due to their high fiber content, shirataki noodles contain 0 calories. Some shirataki noodles are made, in part, with tofu and do contain a small amount of calories, but it's still far less than traditional pasta. For example, 2 ounces of angel hair pasta contains 200 calories, whereas a 4 ounce serving of tofu shirataki spaghetti contains 10 calories. Shirataki noodles are flavorless and come in many shapes including, angel, penne and fettuccine. Unlike traditional wheat pasta, shirataki noodles come packed in liquid. There's no need to cook them; you just rinse them and toss them into your dish. These noodles are also a great option for people with gluten allergies, since they are gluten-free. Their high-fiber content also comes with more than 16 amino acids and various vitamins and minerals, making shirataki noodles great for weight loss, decreasing cholesterol, gastrointestinal regulation and controlling diabetes.

Spaghetti squash

If you're not yet familiar with spaghetti squash, you must try it this season. Spaghetti squash gets its name from its spaghetti-like insides once it's been baked. It's fantastic for weight loss, contains approximately 42 calories per cup and is a great substitute for spaghetti noodles. Its high water content, 92 percent, makes it low in calories. Spaghetti squash is also low in fat -- it comes in at less than 0.5 grams of fat per cup. Another great benefit of spaghetti squash is its high fiber content. Eating a diet high in fiber can help with weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduce constipation and regulate digestion. If those aren't enough reasons to enjoyed a nice bowl of spaghetti squash, you may also want to consider that it's loaded with vitamins and contains every essential mineral. This winter squash is equally delicious paired with spaghetti and meatballs or just with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Zucchini pasta

You've probably already tried zucchini as part of other dishes. Although zucchini usual takes a minor role in most meals, you should strongly consider making it the star ingredient in your next meal. Zucchini can be made into pasta using a spiral slicer, which is an inexpensive kitchen tool that slices zucchini into perfectly shaped noodles. These noodles come in at approximately 19 calories per cup, making them an excellent replacement for traditional pasta. Additionally, zucchini is high in potassium, which can help control blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Zucchini pasta can also be enjoyed with spaghetti sauce and meatballs or lightly sauteed with olive oil and some dried herbs.

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About the author:
Jeanette Padilla is an experienced herbalist, writer, and co-creator of Sunshine Natural Healing. Read more of her work at Sunshine Natural Healing, or follow her on Facebook

Jeanette Padilla is an experienced herbalist, writer, and co-creator of Sunshine Natural Healing. Read more of her work at Sunshine Natural Healing, or follow her on Facebook

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