Basta pasta! Add the taste without the waist

Nutrition team

When we say the word ‘pasta’, what do you think of? Are you among those who find pasta dull and boring and would rather eat cardboard? Or are you one of those people with a passion for pasta?

Hopefully most people now think of pasta in a good way – after all, the variety of pasta meals is endless, and it's low Gi! It comes in different shapes, sizes and colours and pasta can be mixed with all types of sauces, vegetables and meat to provide a huge variety of fast and filling meals.

There is, of course, one problem. While pasta itself is very low in fat, sugar and all things nasty to your waistline, it’s not exactly very tasty.

It can therefore tempting to add fat and calorie-laden sauces. While this may provide you with a tasty dish, it’s also more than a little waistline widening!!

An average (50-75g) serving of spaghetti, linguini, tagliatelle or penne provides only 200 calories and 1g of fat (2 Totals). But to keep pasta low in fat and low in calories, you need to choose your sauce wisely! What you thought looked like a low fat and healthy dinner might have just become quite the opposite!

So, what are the buono (good) and the cattivo (bad!) choices when it comes to pasta sauces? Let’s start with our favourite, pesto…

Pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Reading that ingredients list alone is enough for some of us to gain half a pound!

Although this dish takes you straight to Italy, pesto sauce provides a whopping 420 calories and over 43g of fat per 100g. So an average meal of pasta with pesto provides you with 370 calories and 15g of fat (5 Totals)!

Next come the creamy and cheesey sauces! The main ingredients in carbonara sauces are cream, cheese and bacon. Serious diet-busting material! A 100 gram serving of carbonara sauce will provide you with about 400 calories and 10g of fat. So a bowl of pasta smothered in this creamy sauce will provide over 370 calories and 15g of fat (5 Totals)!

And beware of the stir-ins! Although super-convenient, these little tubs of stir-in sauces can be wickedly high in fat - Dolmio Sun Dried Tomato stir in sauce, for example, contains 165 calories and 14g of fat in 100g! If choosing a stir-in sauce, just be sure to check the ingredients list at the back of the carton.

But if you want to keep your pasta meal really healthy, your best bet is a tomato-based sauce. Napoletana and Arrabiata sauces generally contain less than 60 calories and 2-4g of fat per 100g, and most supermarkets have a wide range of their own tomato-based sauces.

If convenience is the problem, Dolmio offer a microwavable packet of Tomato and Basil Sauce which contains just 55 calories and 2g of fat in 100g. Have a generous portion of tomato sauce and your meal will only come to 250 calories and 2g of fat (3 Totals)

So next time you reach for the pasta, congratulate yourself on being so healthy, but make sure you continue your good intentions by buying a healthy, low fat, tomato based sauce to go with it! Buono Appetito!

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Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.