How To Cook Healthy Pasta Dishes

healthy pasta recipes

Whether it’s Bolognese, Carbonara, or Genovese, the more Italian dishes I list, the more hungry we will become. In fact, Italian pasta has become one of the world’s most popular dishes. Still, is pasta a healthy dish, and if not, how can we make it healthier while still making it delicious?

From Michelin restaurants to local cafeterias, every single eatery offers pasta in various forms, colors, and shapes. More than 40 types of pasta are known to the world today, and among the most popular types of pasta are fettuccine, spaghetti, fusilli, and linguine. In fact, Spaghetti, meaning “little strings” in Italian, is the most sought-after Italian pasta dish.

Calories in pasta

The calories in pasta meals will undoubtedly vary depending on the ingredients used to cook the pasta. For example, the calories in 400 g. of the infamous Carbonara are 646, with 160 calories coming from the delicious cheese that we use as a topping. If we add more of our favorite cream and an extra piece of bacon inside, a dish of Carbonara can become even more caloric (containing up to 1000 kcal).

According to nutritionists, only 1/3 of our plate should contain pasta. For a healthier lifestyle, we can add fruits and salad to fill in the remaining space on our plates.

Restaurants usually use cups to measure the perfect portion, and most standardized pasta dishes contain about 1 to 1 1/2 cups per serving.

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The most famous types of pasta, by shape (Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels)

Pasta dishes tailored to your needs

Today, we can find even fancier types of pasta, tailored to satisfy our individual needs. Vegan pasta made of chickpeas, spinach, or lentils, for example, has turned into a vegan’s favorite dish.

Aside from being the yummiest dish on the planet, pasta can cause a slew of issues for some people. Traditional pasta, in fact, contains a lot of gluten, which can be both healthy and dangerous in some ways. People who are gluten intolerant will certainly avoid a tasty pasta meal.

Still, can we eat pasta, if we have gluten intolerance? Gluten-free pasta offerings have climbed the charts around the world, too. Similar to vegans, people with gluten issues can certainly eat some types of pasta dishes, tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

Vegetarians will also be able to find their ideal pasta match on the market. However, people should be cautious when it comes to pasta ingredients, colorful pasta frequently contains an artificial veggie extract that gives it a distinct color and appearance. Another interesting question is whether pasta contains actual vegetables.

Why pasta may be good for weight loss?

Refined pasta, high in calories and low in fiber, is what we buy and eat most often. Nutritionists, however, claim that this type of pasta can’t keep us well fed, and stop our food cravings for long periods of time. In fact, insufficient nutrition, bad nutrition, and emotional problems can all make us crave more food.

High-fiber, whole-grain pasta is less caloric, so we will need a double-sized portion to keep us away from cravings for other foods during the night. However, whole-grain pasta contains much fewer calories than refined pasta and gives us a strong, long-lasting feeling of fullness. For example, if we consume a normal portion of whole-grained pasta for dinner, this can give us good energy, which is much needed even during our sleeping process.

In point of fact, explaining if pasta is a suitable dish for weight loss is not as straightforward as it seems. This means that it will depend on the total sum of all the additives that we use in cooking to determine if a pasta dish is suitable for our diet.

Cooking oil, meat quality, toppings, and the type of sauces that we use in pasta cooking can determine the number of total calories, sugars, and saturated fats in pasta dishes. For example, the most caloric ingredient in pasta is parmesan topping, which adds a lot to the total number of calories in our meals. As a result, if we use cheese and dairy products sparingly, the pasta itself may turn out to be very beneficial for our health.

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Lasagna, made of pasta sheets

Downsides of eating too much pasta

Pasta is high in carbohydrates, with one serving containing 37–43 g of carbs on average. Carbohydrates from foods and drinks are easily broken down by our bodies into glucose, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar. This can lead to dangerous health conditions such as the risk of diabetes.

According to experts, many people overeat refined pasta, which is a low fiber food. Due to the ease with which carbs are absorbed by our body, we may still feel hungry even after eating a big portion of refined pasta. Still, nobody on a diet wants to cook another meal at night, so avoiding certain types of low-fiber pasta may be the healthiest option.

Excessive consumption of unhealthy pasta dishes may also result in additional health problems. Aside from diabetes, eating pasta can lead to metabolic issues, heart problems, and even obesity. Gluten allergies are another common issue that many pasta lovers face.

The bottom line

Pasta dishes have climbed the charts in almost every country in the world. However, aside from being delicious, pasta can also be healthy, depending on the ingredients and methods used to prepare it. Pasta should be tailored to our individual needs, no matter what is written in culinary cookbooks.

Whatever diet we follow, we should always remember that healthy pasta is high in fiber. Forget about colorful fancy shapes and sizes because the ingredients in pasta are actually essential for our good health. Conforming to this, a careful consideration of additives and pasta recipes, combined with small pasta servings, can be just what we need.

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