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Ensure Your Hearty Italian dinner Is a Healthful one. Start With These Label-Reading Tips.
Pasta is quick; it’s easy—just cook it, heat the sauce and serve. But sometimes choosing the most healthful sauce is difficult. Keep these buying tips in mind when you’re jarred by the multitude of pasta sauces on the shelves.
• Red is all right. Cooked tomatoes provide more beneficial antioxidants, such as cancer-fighting lycopene, than raw tomatoes. That’s just one reason to choose red pasta sauces instead of white, cheesy ones. “If you stay away from fat-laden butter sauces and stick with tomato-based veggie sauces, the calorie count will be lower,” says Julie Miller Jones, PhD, CNS, LN, professor of nutrition and food science at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Additionally, red sauces with clams or other seafood add the omega-3 fats that are not always prevalent in an average diet,” she says.
• Look for organic certification. It means the sauce uses ingredients grown without pesticides.
• Mind the fat. Look for brands with fewer than 5g of fat per 100g serving size. Check the ingredient list to see what kind of fat is used and choose a sauce without saturated or trans fats. Olive oil is great and so are other unsaturated oils, such as canola or corn oil. “Red sauces that have just a little olive oil are good choices because they have mono- and polyunsaturated fats [the heart-healthy ones],” says Miller Jones. Also, when choosing a meat sauce, stick to turkey or chicken to help keep calories and fat in check.
• Pass on the salt. “Pasta sauces with around 600mg of sodium per half cup can easily push sodium levels over the new 1,500mg recommended daily intake. Do the math: A cup of sauce provides almost all of your sodium for the day. In addition to your other meals, the amount can add up,” advises Miller Jones. If you do choose a sauce with over 500mg of sodium per serving, watch your portion size.
To round out the dinner with fiber, use a whole grain pasta. If you want extra protein, add lean ground turkey or soy meatballs. Garnish the dish with fresh basil or oregano for added flavor and color, and you’ll have a great-tasting and good-for-you meal the whole family will love.
AMY’S KITCHEN ORGANIC LOW SODIUM MARINARA PASTA SAUCE has only 100mg of sodium and uses vine-ripened tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil.