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The Nutrition of Pasta Sauce

Fitday Editor
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Pasta sauce is a traditional Italian condiment, usually made with tomatoes and spices. It brings out the flavor of pasta dishes by adding color and seasoning. There are numerous types of sauces including marinara, basil and Alfredo. Each sauce is unique in flavor and color. White pasta sauce has a light and delicate flavor. Red pasta sauces are more robust and heartier than white. Sauces are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well. Before you decide on that next pasta dish, here's a nutrition guide to pasta sauce.

Red Pasta Sauce

More people consume red pasta sauces than the white varieties. Marinara is the most popular of all red sauces. The thick sauce is made with onions, garlic, tomatoes and basil. It's a favorite sauce for spaghetti, lasagna and manicotti.

White Pasta Sauce

White pasta sauce is used for fettuccine, linguine and seafood dishes. Alfredo, white clam sauce and creamy Parmesan are popular with a good number of people. This type of sauce is more fattening than a red sauce, due to the use of butter or cheese as a main ingredient. These ingredients give white pastas their creamy textures.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

A great number of vitamins and minerals are found in red pasta sauces. Red pasta sauces have the nutrients of ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene and vitamin C. Lycopene helps reduce free radicals in the body and vitamin C protects against illness. Here is a list of other nutrients found in red sauces:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Fat Content

The fat content in pasta sauce varies with each type. The butter and cheese used to make white pasta sauce increases the fat content. Store bought white sauces may have preservatives and starches added as well. The fat in a cup of Alfredo sauce is around 150 grams. A cup of spaghetti or marinara sauce has between 180 to 250 g of fat. You can buy low to no fat brands to reduce your fat content.

Calorie Content

The average calorie content for 1/2 cup of tomato-based pasta sauce is 60 calories. White pasta sauces have an average of 250 calories. If you're on a low calorie diet, read nutrition labels carefully before purchasing. Store bought brands vary in calorie and fat content.

Special Ingredients

The red and white varieties are not the only pasta sauces available. Pesto, white wine, garlic and olive oil are also used in culinary dishes. Although most store bought red pasta sauces come with chunks of tomato, there are brands that have other ingredients as well. Mushrooms, green peppers, onions and even meat are favorite choices for many consumers. You can also add your own fresh ingredients for more nutrition.


Unopened store bought sauces are good until the expiration date. Refrigerate opened containers for up to five days, and then discard. The products will last longer if frozen. To do this, pour your sauce into a plastic container and cover with an airtight lid.

Pasta sauce is good for making quick and easy meals for your family. Add it to whole wheat pasta for a healthy and delicious dinner any night of the week.

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