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The Nutrition of Pasta Salad

No matter what type of party you go to, chances are that there will be at least one type of pasta salad available for tasting. Pasta is often avoided by people who are dieting because they fear it will make them fat. Here's a look at the nutrition of pasta salad.

Carbohydrates

As the name implies, pasta salads are composed primarily of some type of pasta. Pasta gets a bad rap for being too calorically dense, but in reality, this is not the case. Food is composed of three basic nutrients: fat, protein or carbohydrates. Unlike fat, which contains 9 calories per gram, both protein and carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram. Since pasta is composed almost entirely from carbohydrates, it is really not as calorically dense as some other foods that are high in fat. The problem comes into play when large portions are served. According to the USDA's food guide pyramid, one serving of pasta is around 1/2 a cup and 200 calories. But it is not uncommon to find serving sizes two or three times larger than this at restaurants. It is no surprise then that eating these large amounts of food will make your waistline increase.

Fat

Pasta salad usually contains a bit of olive oil as a dressing for the salad. While the food guide pyramid allows oil in only moderate amounts, olive oil is one of the few fats that is supported for consumption. Olive oil contains high amounts of unsaturated fat, which has been found to be effective in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, stroke and other similar conditions. When making pasta salad at home, use only a few tablespoons of olive oil in order to cut down on your calorie intake.

Vegetables

Vegetables are also typically found in high quantities in pasta salads. Vegetables make a great addition to any salad for a number of reasons. They contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimal health. They also contain high amounts of fiber, which has been found to be effective in the treatment and prevention of a number of serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Fiber is slow digesting, therefore taking a long time to leave the stomach and enter the digestive tract. This means that after eating fiber, you'll stay full for a longer period of time.

Protein Sources

Pasta salads usually contain some type of protein source. This part of pasta salads is really a toss-up. Some protein sources will add to the nutrition of the salad, and some would be better left pushed to the side of your plate. Avoid pasta salads that contain pepperoni or other sausages. These are typically loaded with fat, salt and calories. Replace these protein sources with chicken, turkey or fish instead.

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