Pasta doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to nutrition (or weight control). But in reality, different kinds of “pasta” can be much better or worse for you. Today, let’s look one specific kind of pasta: Vermicelli. Is it healthy or not?
Vermicelli noodles are mostly empty calories, as the main ingredient is just flour. They are high in total carbohydrates and low in fiber. Overall, vermicelli has similar nutrition as other pastas, like spaghetti. To make your vermicelli healthier, add vegetables and avoid high-calorie sauces.
Below, we’ll look at ingredients, carbs, fiber, and more details of vermicelli nutrition. We’ll analyze whether vermicelli is good for a weight loss diet. We’ll also compare vermicelli to egg noodles and rice! Which is the best choice for you?
Are Vermicelli Noodles Good For You?
Here are the six specific questions I’ll be answering about vermicelli nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Is Vermicelli Made Of?
- Is Vermicelli Good For Weight Loss?
- Are Vermicelli Noodles Low Carb?
- Is Vermicelli High in Fiber?
- Is Vermicelli Healthier Than Egg Noodles?
- Is Vermicelli Healthier Than Rice?
1. What Is Vermicelli Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at common vermicelli ingredients. I’m talking here about the actual noodles—not necessarily the sauce, broth, meat, veggies, or other foods eaten with them.
The first thing to realize about vermicelli noodles are that there are different kinds:
- Semolina vermicelli: The most common type of vermicelli is made from wheat semolina, just like normal pasta (spaghetti, penne, etc). If you only see “vermicelli” and it’s not specified what kind it is, I’d assume it’s wheat, especially if you’re not in Asia.
- Rice vermicelli: Made from rice flour, these noodles are more common in many Asian cuisines, including in Vietnam and Singapore.
- Bean vermicelli: Also called “bean thread noodles,” “glass noodles,” or “cellophane noodles,” these are often made from mung beans. They’re used in Chinese cuisine, and they’re more clear than rice vermicelli. Some may have a non-vegan ingredient (chitosan).
- Sweet potato vermicelli: As the name suggests, these are made from sweet potato starch. They’re often lumped in with the bean varieties as a type of “cellophane noodle.”
Most vermicelli noodle ingredients are very simple. So you’ll typically just see the type of flour used, plus maybe some fortified vitamins or minerals (such as “thiamine mononitrate“). It’s nothing horrible, but nothing amazing, either.
In most vermicelli noodles, you’re getting processed flour that is somewhat high on the glycemic index—but otherwise nothing that is very bad for you.
I did see the Three Ladies brand of rice vermicelli has added salt in the actual noodles. It looks to be only 160mg of sodium per 1-cup serving, so it’s not a ton… But keep this in mind if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake.
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2. Is Vermicelli Good For Weight Loss?
When you look at vermicelli nutrition in depth, you start to realize that vermicelli is actually very similar to other pastas. It tends to have similar ingredients and similar amounts of carbs, fiber, protein, and so forth.
So, the question of whether vermicelli is good for weight loss is mostly the same as just asking “Is pasta good for weight loss?” And the answer to that is, “It depends.” I’ll explain.
Vermicelli noodles themselves are not horrible when it comes to calorie density, a key principle for weight loss. They are low in fat, not containing high-calorie ingredients like oil or dairy. The noodles themselves are mostly just made of flour.
But that also means vermicelli is pretty low in fiber, depending on the brand and form of vermicelli. Fiber can help fill you up on a diet, and vermicelli doesn’t have much.
Pasta can also be easy to over-eat. This is especially the case with white pasta, which is quick to chew and swallow. If you’re anything like me, you can quickly inhale many servings of vermicelli.
But the specific details of the vermicelli dish matter a lot. If your vermicelli dish has a lot of vegetables, that will reduce the caloric density and make it better for weight loss. (For the best weight loss, fill up half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables.)
On the other hand, if your vermicelli dish has a high-sugar or high-fat sauce (like a cheesy sauce), then it may be even worse for weight loss.
All this said, you can still eat vermicelli on a weight loss diet. With portion control or calorie counting, you can eat pretty much anything and still lose weight. And for many people, eating small portions of your favorite foods can make your diet more enjoyable.
So, don’t feel like you can never eat vermicelli again just to lose weight. Just be aware that the calories can add up pretty fast, and you may be more satisfied if you focus on foods that are higher in protein, fiber, and other nutrients—not just carbs.
Speaking of which, let’s discuss the carbs in vermicelli.
3. Are Vermicelli Noodles Low Carb?
Vermicelli noodles are not low carb. They have around 42g to 49g of total carbohydrates per serving (~56 grams). Generally, vermicelli has a similar amount of carbs as other kinds of pasta made from wheat or rice.
The term “vermicelli” mostly refers to the size and shape of these noodles. But as covered above, they are mostly made of the same ingredients as other pasta. Accordingly, they are high in carbs, just like other kinds of pasta.
|Vermicelli Product||Total Carbohydrates|
|La Moderna Vermicelli||42g (in 55g serving)|
|Ronzoni Vermicelli||42g (in 56g serving)|
|Three Ladies Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli||40g (in 56g serving)|
|Longkou Vermicelli (Beans Thread)||49g (in 56g serving)|
Some people might think that bean vermicelli would be lower in carbs. This is a common question when it comes to bean-based pastas, as I covered in my post on lentil pasta.
Although beans and lentils are lower on the glycemic index compared to wheat and rice, they are still high in total carbs. So they are not low carb or keto friendly. And this applies to bean vermicelli as well: It’s not low-carb!
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4. Is Vermicelli High in Fiber?
Vermicelli noodles are typically not high in fiber. Most vermicelli brands only have 2 grams of fiber or less per 56-gram serving. This is similar or even lower fiber content than most kinds of regular wheat pasta, such as spaghetti and penne.
Here’s a table showing the dietary fiber in four different brands of vermicelli noodles:
|Vermicelli Product||Dietary Fiber|
|La Moderna Vermicelli||2g (in 55g serving)|
|Ronzoni Vermicelli||2g (in 56g serving)|
|Three Ladies Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli||<1g (in 56g serving)|
|Longkou Vermicelli (Beans Thread)||1g (in 56g serving)|
For comparison, Barilla brand spaghetti and penne both have 3 grams of fiber in the same serving size. So these vermicelli brands all have less fiber.
You might assume that bean vermicelli would be high in fiber, as beans are high in fiber… But this appears not to be the case. The beans are processed in such a way that there’s not much fiber in these noodles (at least not in the Longkou brand).
Another observation: It appears that rice vermicelli may be even lower in fiber than semolina vermicelli, based on the above brands.
If you can find “brown rice vermicelli,” the fiber can be as high as 3g per serving (in this brand on Amazon). But surprisingly, I found one “brown rice vermicelli” brand with 0 grams of fiber. So don’t assume “brown rice” or “whole grain” makes it high-fiber.
5. Is Vermicelli Healthier Than Egg Noodles?
Vermicelli noodles are likely healthier than egg noodles, as they tend to be lower in dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and sugar compared to most egg noodle brands. However, egg noodles are often slightly higher in protein than vermicelli.
Most brands of egg noodles have similar ingredients as normal wheat pasta—but just with added egg or egg yolk. Nutritionally, the egg adds some protein, but not a lot. Most egg noodles have 8g of protein per serving—compared to 7g in semolina vermicelli.
What about sugar? Most kinds of pasta are sugar-free—but not egg noodles. I checked 3 different brands of egg noodles, and all of them had 2g of sugar per serving. Not a ton, but all the vermicelli brands I checked had 0g of sugar.
Next let’s cover dietary cholesterol. Vermicelli is cholesterol free. With egg noodles, it depends on the brand. The popular “No Yolks” brand is cholesterol-free, but many other egg noodles have ~65mg of cholesterol (22% of your daily value).
Saturated fat is another area where most egg noodles seem worse than vermicelli. Most egg noodles have around a 1g or 0.5g of saturated fat per serving. But all the brands of vermicelli I checked had 0 grams.
Of course, there are debates in nutrition about whether saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are even that bad… The evidence is mixed. But most leading health organizations still recommend limiting saturated fat at least.
So overall, vermicelli seems a bit healthier than egg noodles, based on common nutritional wisdom.
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6. Is Vermicelli Healthier Than Rice?
To compare vermicelli with rice, we need to clarify what kind of rice we’re talking about. White rice is more processed than brown rice, so it has less fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients. (source)
The extra fiber in brown rice means it is a bit lower on the glycemic index (GI), with a score of 50—compared to 72 for white rice. Rice vermicelli scores a 58 on the glycemic index, so it’s in between these scores.
However, glycemic index scores can vary from study to study—and interestingly, from person to person. So I wouldn’t put a ton of stock in the difference in GI scores between rice and vermicelli.
My intuitive sense was that brown rice is healthier than vermicelli noodles, but white rice is likely about equal with it. My logic was that brown rice is less processed, so it’s likely to have more fiber and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
However, when you look at the actual nutrition facts, brown rice doesn’t have that much fiber in reality. Many brands only show 1g of fiber per 160-calorie serving. That’s not a lot. It’s less than many pasta brands.
There’s also the possible issue with arsenic contamination in brown rice. On average, brown rice has 80% more inorganic arsenic than white rice. And that means it typically has more arsenic than rice vermicelli, too (although rice noodles do have some arsenic).
However, the arsenic issue with brown rice depends on where the rice was grown. California, India, and Pakistan tend to grow brown rice with less arsenic. Read this article for more information.
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