Pasta is not necessarily a dietary no-no. If you use caution in choosing and creating your pasta meal, you can not only get away with eating pasta as an occasional treat, you can actually use the pasta as a source of several significantly beneficial dietary components.
Whole Wheat Pasta
For many people who enjoy pasta but want to eat a healthier diet, whole wheat pasta can be a good alternative to ordinary pasta. One cup of typical whole wheat penne pasta contains about 210 calories, 1.5 g of fat and no cholesterol or sodium. It contains 41 g of carbohydrates, but 5 g of dietary fiber and 7 g of protein make it much more nutritionally complete than traditional pasta.
Pasta made from rice instead of wheat can be a good source of nutrients, and it can be a good option for pasta fans who are allergic to wheat products. A typical 57 g serving of rice penne contains 210 calories, with only 0.5 g of fat and no saturated fat or cholesterol. It contains 15 mg of sodium, 46 g of carbs, less than 1 g of dietary fiber and 4 g of protein.
Pasta can also be made from spelt, another type of grain similar to wheat or rice. One 57 g serving of spelt rotini pasta contains 190 calories, with 1.5 g of total fat but no saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium. It also contains 40 g of total carbohydrates, 5 g of dietary fiber and 8 g of protein.
No matter how healthy the type of pasta on which you base your meal, you can easily ruin your dietary goals if you are careless about the supplemental items with the pasta. For example, choose sauces or toppings with zero or reduced fat. If you mix in meatballs or sausage with your pasta, try using ones made from turkey for extra nutrition. Instead of greasy garlic bread, try a whole grain baguette for a side item.