Top Pasta Nutrition Facts That Will Erase Your Post-Noodle Guilt

Pasta has some pretty legitimate health benefits.

Great news, noodleheads. We already know that pasta is a near-perfect food: It's convenient, easy to prepare, and loved by little ones just as much as adults. If you've been living off pasta since you were a kid, you're not alone. Why not? It's as versatile as they come, with noodle varieties and sauce variations that are limitless.

The one drawback always seems to boil down to nutritional value. While we won't argue that pasta is on par with vitamin- and fiber-rich foods like beans or fresh fruits and vegetables, noodles actually have a number of redeeming health benefits, says health expert Diane Welland, RD. Welland outlined the top pasta nutrition facts and health benefits—you're welcome.

Improved Diet Quality

A study analyzing the diets of adults and children who eat pasta found that people who consume pasta have better diet quality and better nutrient intakes than those who do not eat pasta. This means pasta consumption was associated with higher intakes of the nutrients we need more of like iron, magnesium, dietary fiber, vitamin E, and folate, and a lower intake of the nutrients we get too much of, like saturated fat.

Pasta as a Delivery System

"Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition throughout the lifecycle, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and legumes," explains Welland. This is really the crux of its nutritional potential—it's the ideal base for pairing with whole foods.

"Think of pasta as a canvas from which you can add almost any nutrient-dense, fiber-rich food you and your family like, to create memorable and delicious meals," Welland adds. "This analysis underscores the nutritional importance of grains, such as pasta, as consistent with a healthy diet. It shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don't eat pasta."

Increased Nutrient Intake

Folic Acid

One serving (about 2 ounces) of enriched pasta is fortified with about 30% or 125 micrograms of the recommended daily dietary intake of folic acid. Folic acid helps your body maintain and produce new cells. It may also help prevent colon and cervical cancer, as well as reduce the risk of birth defects in pregnant women.

Complex Carbohydrates

As a complex carbohydrate, pasta breaks down into glucose, which is the primary fuel your brain and body need to keep you energized and alert throughout the day. You'll often hear of professional athletes eating a large bowl of pasta before a big game.

Health Balancing Effects

Low Glycemic Index

With a low GI, most pasta varieties keep blood sugar levels (relatively) in check, so you can stay energized throughout the day. If you have a condition like diabetes, make sure you check with your doctor before significantly increasing the complex carbs in your diet.

Low Sodium and Cholesterol

Pasta is low in sodium and cholesterol-free, so you can feel good about what you're eating. For an extra nutritional boost, try adding some fresh fish or seafood to your pasta. Seafood contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and protect heart health.

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Sources
Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy.
  1. Papanikolaou Y. Pasta consumption is linked to greater nutrient intakes and improved diet quality in american children and adults, and beneficial weight-related outcomes only in adult femalesFront Nutr. 2020;0. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2020.00112.

  2. Folate. Office of Dietary Supplements.

  3. Innes JK, Calder PC. Marine Omega-3 (N-3) Fatty Acids for Cardiovascular Health: An Update for 2020. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 18;21(4):1362. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041362.

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