When it comes to pasta, not all are created equal. Pasta noodles can come in a variety of different forms, made from a wide array of ingredients. The most common is made from white semolina flour (wheat), and although this pasta is low in fat and cholesterol, it also has few vitamins and minerals. The same goes for rice pasta (which is an alternative type of pasta for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease). The best pasta in terms of nutrient density would be your whole wheat pasta, which has more fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals such as selenium and manganese.
If you are looking at plated pasta dishes, you can find even more variance in healthy options. Pasta dishes that use a cream (such as Alfredo) or pesto sauce are generally higher in calories and fat than tomato-based sauces. Protein choices can also make an impact on the overall healthfulness of your pasta. Choose options like salmon or chicken breast instead of ground beef or meatballs. However, some restaurants, like Marabella Meatball Co, offer healthier meatballs (some even full of veggies!). Vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, bell peppers and asparagus make great additions to any pasta. Lastly, try to limit the cheese. A little extra parmesan sprinkled on your pasta is one thing, but getting a pasta dish baked with cheese is likely loaded with saturated fat and sodium. If you are looking for some Healthy Dining options while dining out, try the Small Spaghetti (340 calories, 9 g fat) at Noodles & Co or the Linguine Pescatore with Whole Grain Pasta (700 calories, 7 g fat) at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.