Skip to Content

Are lo mein noodles whole wheat?

Lo mein noodles are a popular Chinese noodle dish made with wheat flour noodles that are stir-fried with meats and vegetables. The name “lo mein” translates to “stirred noodles” in Cantonese. While traditional lo mein noodles are made from refined white flour, many restaurants and food brands now offer whole wheat or multigrain versions of lo mein noodles as a healthier alternative. So are lo mein noodles whole wheat? Let’s take a closer look.

What are lo mein noodles made of?

Traditional lo mein noodles are made from refined wheat flour, water, and sometimes egg. This gives the noodles their classic yellow color and chewy texture. The flour is typically a high-gluten bread flour, which provides the elasticity needed for the noodles to cook up firm yet springy.

Whole wheat lo mein noodles, on the other hand, are made with all or part whole wheat flour instead of purely refined white flour. Whole wheat contains the entire grain kernel, including the nutrient-rich germ and bran. This gives whole wheat noodles a darker color, nuttier flavor, and more fiber. Some brands may combine whole wheat flour with some refined flour to achieve the ideal texture.

Are traditional lo mein noodles healthy?

Traditional lo mein noodles made from refined flour are relatively high in carbohydrates and low in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. A 2 oz dry serving contains around 200 calories, 40g of carbohydrates, 4g of protein, 1g of fiber. The glycemic index, which measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar, is estimated to be moderately high at around 70 for white flour noodles.

While traditional lo mein noodles make a tasty dish, the lack of nutrients beyond carbohydrates makes them more of an occasional treat food rather than a healthy staple. Replacing refined grains with whole grains whenever possible can provide more nutritional benefits.

Are whole wheat lo mein noodles healthier?

Whole wheat lo mein noodles are significantly healthier than traditional white flour noodles. Some key benefits of whole wheat noodles include:

– More fiber – Whole wheat noodles contain 3-4 times more fiber than white noodles. Fiber slows digestion, promotes fullness, and supports heart health.

– Lower glycemic index – The glycemic index of whole wheat noodles ranges from 40-50, much lower than white flour. This means they do not spike blood sugar as dramatically.

– More protein – Whole grains like whole wheat contain more protein than refined grains. This aids fullness and muscle building.

– More vitamins & minerals – Whole wheat noodles contain B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and other nutrients lost when making white flour.

– Potentially less processed – Many whole wheat noodles contain just one or two whole food ingredients, compared to white noodles with additives.

When you opt for whole wheat lo mein noodles, you get a serving of whole grains providing fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. This makes them a healthier choice than white flour noodles.

Are Lo Mein Noodles Typically Whole Wheat?

Now that we’ve compared the nutritional value of white flour and whole wheat lo mein noodles, are lo mein noodles typically made with whole grains?

The short answer is no – traditional lo mein noodles are usually made from refined white flour, not whole wheat. Here are some reasons why:


Lo mein noodles originated in China over 2,000 years ago. Back then, noodle-making techniques only allowed for refined white flour noodles. The traditional recipe for thin yellow egg noodles is still used today for authenticity.


Refining grains to white flour results in softer noodles with a tender, elastic texture. This works well for lo mein, which is meant to be soft and chewy. The higher fiber content of whole wheat can sometimes create firmer, toothier noodles.


The pale yellow color of lo mein noodles made from white flour allows the other ingredients like vegetables and proteins to stand out visually. Whole wheat noodles have a darker tan hue that can dominate the overall look of the dish.


White flour is less expensive than whole wheat flour. Chinese restaurants can keep menu costs down by using affordable white flour noodles.


Diners are very used to the classic taste and appearance of white flour lo mein noodles. Some restaurants may be hesitant to switch to whole wheat out of concern that customers will notice a difference.

So in summary, while whole wheat makes for a healthier noodle, lo mein in most restaurants and stores is traditionally prepared with refined white flour for historical, textural, visual, and economic reasons. Diners seeking the health benefits of whole grains need to look specifically for whole wheat lo mein noodles.

What to Look for in Whole Wheat Lo Mein Noodles

If you want to give whole wheat lo mein a try, be on the lookout for these signs you’re getting a quality healthy noodle:

Made with 100% whole wheat

Optimal nutrition will come from noodles made entirely with whole wheat flour, not a partial blend. Check that “whole wheat flour” is the only flour ingredient.

High fiber content

Aim for at least 4-5g of fiber per serving. This indicates sizable whole grain content.

Low in added sugars

Many noodles add sugars, oils, salt and preservatives to improve texture and shelf life. Choose options with minimal added sugars and clean ingredients.

Tolerant texture

Try to find brands that have adapted their whole wheat noodles to achieve that springy, toothsome chew that lo mein is known for. Stay away from dense, gritty textures.

ABA Certified

The American Heart Association’s Whole Grain Stamp certifies products as having significant whole grain content per serving. The amber or black stamp is a helpful shortcut for identifying truly whole wheat noodles.

Favorable nutrition facts

Aim for noodles with higher protein (6-8g per serving), fiber (5g+), and minerals like iron and magnesium versus plain white flour noodles. More bang for your buck!

With a discerning eye and a little trial and error, you should be able to find whole grain lo mein noodles with all the nutritional merits of whole wheat and the satisfying chew of traditional lo mein.

How to Cook Whole Wheat Lo Mein Noodles

Preparing whole wheat lo mein noodles is similar to regular lo mein. Here are some tips:

Read the package instructions

Whole wheat noodles may require slightly different water amounts and cooking times. Follow the times and ratios listed.

Use plenty of water

Cook the noodles in a large pot with lots of boiling water, at least 4-6 quarts of water per pound of noodles. This prevents sticking.

Don’t overcook

Whole wheat noodles can become mushy if overcooked. Test a noodle before draining to ensure it has achieved the ideal firm yet tender texture.

Rinse thoroughly after cooking

Drain the noodles and then rinse under cold water while tossing gently. This stops the cooking process and cools them down for stir-frying.

Use a hot pan for stir-frying

Make sure your wok or skillet is very hot before adding a couple teaspoons of oil and tossing in the noodles. This helps sear and brown them properly.

Mix in sauce and veggies

Once noodles are lightly browned, add your lo mein sauce ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and stir-fry briefly until integrated. Then mix in sliced veggies like bok choy, peppers, cabbage, etc.

With these preparations, whole wheat lo mein noodles cook up with the perfect firm-yet-tender texture to soak up all the flavors of your sauce. Enjoy the full nutrition of whole grains in your lo mein!

Finding Whole Wheat Lo Mein Noodles in Stores and Restaurants

Want to whip up healthier whole wheat lo mein at home? Here are some places to find quality whole grain noodles:

Asian grocery stores

Look for brands like Annie Chun’s, Lotus Foods, or King Soba organic ramen. Many carry gluten-free brown rice noodles too.

Natural food stores

Stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Earth Fare, etc. stock multiple whole wheat noodle options from pasta aisle brands.

Online shopping

Order from Amazon, Vitacost, Thrive Market, etc. for the convenience of finding nearly any whole wheat noodle variety shipped to your door.

DIY from scratch

Make your own lo mein noodles using just whole wheat flour and water. This lets you control the freshness and ingredients.

As for restaurants, unfortunately it’s rare to find whole wheat noodles on the menu at Chinese takeout spots. But a growing number of health-focused restaurants are incorporating more whole grain menu options, so you can request them. Small chances exist at restaurants like:

PF Chang’s

Listing a brown rice noodle option for some dishes.

Pei Wei

Has a whole wheat udon noodle swap for some meals.

MOD Pizza

Uses an ancient grain blend including whole wheat for their pizza crusts.

Noodles & Company

Offers whole grain and gluten-free noodle choices for certain dishes.

The whole wheat lo mein options are still sparse at restaurants, but hopefully that will be changing soon to meet consumer demand for nutritious whole food ingredients.

Whole Wheat Lo Mein Noodle Recipes to Try

Experiment with making your own delicious whole wheat lo mein creations at home. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:

1. Vegetable Lo Mein

This classic version uses broccoli, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, and green onions. The vegetables let the wholesome noodle flavor shine.

2. Chicken Lo Mein

For some protein, slice and stir-fry chicken breast with your noodles. Sprinkle in chili powder or red pepper flakes for a kick.

3. Tofu Lo Mein

Silken tofu makes a smooth, nourishing vegan lo mein with whole wheat noodles. Add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.

4. Beef Lo Mein

Thinly sliced flank steak cooks quickly to pair perfectly with hearty noodles and mushrooms for a satisfying dish.

5. Shrimp Lo Mein

Plump shrimp rounds out this seafood lo mein for a dose of omega-3’s to go with the whole grains.

The possibilities are endless for crafting nourishing lo mein with the superior nutrition of whole wheat noodles. Let the ingredients below inspire you.

Proteins Vegetables Sauces & Seasonings
Chicken Broccoli Soy sauce
Beef Cabbage Sesame oil
Shrimp Carrots Rice vinegar
Tofu Onions Ginger
Pork Peppers Garlic
Turkey Bean sprouts 5-spice powder


In conclusion, while traditional lo mein noodles are made from refined white flour, whole wheat lo mein provides far more nutritional value. Seek out quality whole grain noodles made from 100% whole wheat to get the most fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals in each serving. With some adjustments to cooking time and texture, whole wheat noodles can achieve that perfect tender yet toothsome lo mein bite. Whip up your own healthy lo mein creations at home, or look for restaurants starting to offer whole grain noodles on the menu. With some attention to ingredients, you can enjoy all the delicious flavors of lo mein and the satisfying benefits of whole grains.