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Is pasta healthy? – SUCH TV

Three glass jars in different sizes filled with different types of dried pasta.

Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor has the lowdown on the healthiest pasta and how to cook healthy pasta dishes.

Standard dried pasta is usually low in salt and saturated fat. As with any starchy carbohydrate, a high ­fibre version like wholewheat pasta will add fibre to your diet.

Wholewheat pasta is more available than it used to be and only takes a minute or two longer to cook.

What makes a pasta dish healthy is usually down to what you have with it. Red, tomato-based sauces rather than creamy sauces are usually a healthier ready-made choice. They are likely to be lower in saturated fat and the tomatoes will also count towards your 5-a-day. Watch out for the salt content in all ready-made sauces, though, especially ones that include cheese, sausage or bacon, or salty additions like olives, capers and sun-dried tomatoes.

Home-cooked pasta dishes allow you to limit the fat and salt content. You could make a big batch of home-made tomato sauce, freeze it and use it later with different dishes. Add roasted aubergine chunks, butternut squash and chicken, or roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Or try some lean minced beef, green lentils, or vegetarian mince, with some chopped carrots, mushrooms and peppers for a Bolognese sauce.

You can also add reduced-fat pesto, peas, broccoli and courgettes to your pasta. Pesto – even reduced-fat pesto – is high in fat and calories because it includes nuts, cheese, and olive oil, so use it sparingly. With pesto, the fats are unsaturated and a little adds a lot of flavour.

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