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Healthful Pasta Sauce

Healthful Pasta Sauce

Store bought sauces sell well mostly because of convenience, economy and family-wide appeal, but you can take heart; they're healthy and nutritious, too.

Tomato-based sauces are an excellent source of the carotenoid lycopene. A little fat in the sauce - or elsewhere in the meal - aids absorption of this powerful antioxidant.

Spaghetti Sauce

Store shelves these days include organic sauces, "no salt added" options and innumerable variations with onions, garlic, mushrooms, spinach or peppers, all of which add flavor and nutrition. But watch out for hidden dangers, like sky-high sodium levels and added sugar. Beware the new trend of restaurant sauce "wannabes" like Alfredo and vodka sauces; often they are too high in fat and calories.

  • Pick a sauce by its color - the redder the better. The more tomato in your sauce, the more disease fighting lycopene it contains. Lighter sauces like pink vodka or white cheese or Alfredo sauces are nearly always high in fat, saturated fat and calories.
  • Choose chunky for more fiber. Go for garden-style sauces or those that contain any kind of vegetables. They can add three to four grams of fiber per one-half cup serving of sauce. Pair with a two-ounce serving of whole-grain pasta for eight to 10 grams of fiber - about one-third your daily needs.
  • Cut the sodium and fat in your favorite sauce by adding a can of fat-free no-added salt tomato sauce or low-sodium canned diced tomatoes.
  • Reach for canned sauces to save some cents. A typical can costs about five cents per ounce compared to eight to 14 cents per ounce for jarred sauces and up to 20 cents per ounce for upscale sauces in pouches.

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