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Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal: How To Choose?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between pasta and whole-grain cornmeal, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the pasta vs whole-grain cornmeal comparison.
Esther Bumpus, Health Writer

Written by Esther Bumpus, Health Writer. Updated on January 24, 2023.

Pasta and whole-grain cornmeal belong to the grains food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Grains and grain products are an affordable source of carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), iron, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

They also provide a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

However, it is important to note that whole grains are generally a better source of these nutrients than refined grains.

This article will thoroughly compare pasta and whole-grain cornmeal and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.


Pasta is a traditional Italian food made from wheat flour and water. The most common types of pasta include spaghetti, macaroni, linguine, and fettuccine. Still, there are many other varieties available.

Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body. It also contains small amounts of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins, depending on the type of pasta and the flour used.

It is also low in fat and calories, making it a great option for weight management and a balanced diet. It can be enjoyed as a part of a healthy diet when paired with vegetables and lean protein sources such as legumes and in moderate portions.

Pasta can be enjoyed in a variety of ways; it can be cooked in different sauces, with herbs and spices, and can also be used in salads and soups. There are also different types of pasta available for those who are gluten intolerant or prefer a lower-carb option, such as rice pasta, quinoa pasta, and lentil pasta.

Pasta is not an excellent source of any particular vitamin.

However, it contains a good amount of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and some Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Whole-grain cornmeal

Whole-grain cornmeal (Zea mays) is made by grinding whole corn kernels into a fine or coarse powder. It is considered a whole grain because it contains all three parts of the corn kernel: the germ, bran, and endosperm.

It is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B3, iron and zinc. It also contains antioxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, that have been linked to various health benefits, including improved heart health and blood sugar control.

Whole-grain cornmeal is commonly used in traditional American cuisine, such as cornbread, polenta, and grits. It can also be used as a coating for fish and meats, as an ingredient in baking, and as a thickener in soups and sauces. It is a healthier option than refined cornmeal as it retains all the nutrients from the corn kernel and provides more fiber.

Whole-grain cornmeal is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) and some Vitamin A, Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing pasta vs whole-grain cornmeal.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of pasta and whole-grain cornmeal and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

PastaWhole-grain cornmeal
Energy371 kcal362 kcal
Carbs74.7 g76.9 g
Sugar2.67 g0.64 g
Fiber3.2 g7.3 g
Protein13 g8.12 g
Fat1.51 g3.59 g
Saturated Fat0.277 g0.505 g

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing whole-grain cornmeal vs pasta for weight loss, whole-grain cornmeal is slightly lower in calories, with 362 calories per 100 grams, compared to 371 calories per 100 grams of pasta.

However, both pasta and whole-grain cornmeal can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Protein

Grains and most grain products, including pasta and whole-grain cornmeal, are important sources of plant-based protein.

However, it should be noted that most grains, with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat, for example, are low in lysine and methionine.

That said, you can combine grains with legumes to get a complete protein.

Pasta offers around 38% more protein than whole-grain cornmeal.

Pasta has 13 grams of protein per 100 grams, while whole-grain cornmeal has 8.1 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in pasta and whole-grain cornmeal.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 3% higher in whole-grain cornmeal than in pasta. It has 76.9 grams per 100 grams, compared to 74.7 grams in pasta.

There’s less sugar in whole-grain cornmeal than in pasta, 78% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of whole-grain cornmeal contains 0.6 grams of sugar, while the same amount of pasta contains 2.7 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in pasta and whole-grain cornmeal.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 7.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams, whole-grain cornmeal is a better source of fiber than pasta which offers 3.2 grams per 100 gram portion.

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Fats

Like most other grains, pasta and whole-grain cornmeal are low in fat.

Fats in pasta and whole-grain cornmeal are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in pasta and whole-grain cornmeal:

  • Pasta: 1.5 grams per 100 grams
  • Whole-grain cornmeal: 3.6 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, pasta is 40% lower in saturated fats.

Pasta and whole-grain cornmeal contain 0.3 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of pasta and whole-grain cornmeal.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Pasta has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

However, whole-grain cornmeal has a higher amount of vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid).

Pasta and whole-grain cornmeal contain the same amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins pasta and whole-grain cornmeal contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

PastaWhole-grain cornmeal
Vitamin A0214 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.09 mg0.385 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.06 mg0.201 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)1.7 mg3.63 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.431 mg0.425 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.142 mg0.304 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)18 µg25 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.11 mg0.42 mg
Vitamin K0.1 µg0.3 µg

Pasta vs Whole-grain cornmeal Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc, or iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the pasta and whole-grain cornmeal comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Pasta is a better source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc than whole-grain cornmeal.

On the other hand, whole-grain cornmeal is a higher amount of calcium, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Pasta and whole-grain cornmeal contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how pasta and whole-grain cornmeal compare when it comes to mineral content.

PastaWhole-grain cornmeal
Calcium21 mg6 mg
Copper0.289 mg0.193 mg
Iron1.3 mg3.45 mg
Magnesium53 mg127 mg
Manganese0.917 mg0.498 mg
Phosphorus189 mg241 mg
Potassium223 mg287 mg
Selenium63.2 µg15.5 µg
Sodium6 mg35 mg
Zinc1.41 mg1.82 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between pasta and whole-grain cornmeal.

Grains, also known as cereal grains, are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

Whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains, in particular, are high in dietary fiber and can help with digestion and weight management.

They may also have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Grains are also a staple food and an important source of food security in many parts of the world.


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