What Is Low-Fat Pasta?

Kristeen Moore

Low-fat pasta consists of dishes that have considerably low amounts of dietary fats in them. Uncooked pasta generally contains little to no fat, but certain dishes can become fattening depending on what is added to the noodles. Low-fat versions of pasta dishes consist primarily of whole ingredients derived from vegetables, such as fresh tomatoes. Lean cuts of poultry, fish, or beef can also be used in low-fat pasta. Canned sauces as well as cheeses and cream tend to convert low-calorie meals into fattening ones.

Pasta itself can be low-fat, but can become a fattening dish when sauces and cheeses are added.
Pasta itself can be low-fat, but can become a fattening dish when sauces and cheeses are added.

Pasta itself is considered a low-fat food, so there is no question that the noodles can complement a healthy lifestyle. The overall fat content can change when cooks prepare pasta to in not-so-healthy ways. Meals that are laden with ingredients, such as cheese, cream, and fatty meats, can turn an otherwise low-fat ingredient into one that will not benefit the average dieter. To make matters worse, some dieters are afraid to eat pasta because they have the misconception that all dishes that include these noodles are fattening.

Low-fat pasta can be tossed with garlic and a small amount of heart-friendly olive oil.
Low-fat pasta can be tossed with garlic and a small amount of heart-friendly olive oil.

In order to retain the low-fat value of pasta dishes, preparers ought to use fresh and whole ingredients that are not fattening. Whole vegetables, such as tomatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms, are common complements to low-fat pasta. Herbs and garlic gloves can help to enrich the flavors of pasta and vegetables without having to add fattening sauces. Meats can be added so long as their fat content is relatively low. Olive oil is also a type of heart-healthy cooking condiment that is a commonplace in pasta preparation.

The use of canned and jarred sauces is prevalent in many homes because they are convenient and fast additions to pasta. Due to the commercial processing and preservation, many of the sauces contain high amounts of sodium and fat. The fat content of cheese-based sauces, such as alfredo, tend to be the worst. In order to make truly low-fat pasta, cooks should stay away from processed sauces and instead use fresh ingredients. If a pre-made sauce is necessary, shoppers should consider choosing a primarily tomato-based one that is also low in sugar and sodium.

Aside from the ingredients used in low-fat pasta, choosing different types of noodles can make certain meals even healthier. Cooks might consider choosing whole wheat pasta noodles as opposed to traditional ones made with enriched flour because the former has higher amounts of fiber per serving. Fiber is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, and it helps to keep individuals fuller longer so that they do not overeat. Chefs should also keep in mind that whole wheat pasta has a heartier flavor, so it might not necessarily need as many ingredients to complement certain dishes.

Mushrooms are common complements to low-fat pasta.
Mushrooms are common complements to low-fat pasta.

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Discussion Comments


Marinara type sauces are usually the lowest in fat. A cook can also use ground turkey or vegetarian crumbles to substantially lower the fat content of any pasta dish. I like both ground turkey and the crumbles, and they are a good buy because you don't get nearly as much shrinkage like you do with beef or pork.

Some people really like frozen peas in pasta, but I can't hack that. I like mushrooms, onions and maybe zucchini. Eggplant is also a traditional accompaniment to red sauce, so you don't get much fat with any of those add-ins.

Low fat pasta dishes are easy to do, if you just use a little common sense in the process.


I saw a "speedy cherry tomato" sauce on a PBS cooking show years ago. It was great. It did use Parmesan cheese, but not a huge amount of it. Mostly it relied on the pasta water mixing with the halved cherry tomatoes and onions. The Parmesan cheese just was a binder, more than anything. I think the recipe called for half a cup, which is not much at all.

I tried the sauce and it was great. I wish I had written down the recipe because it was such a good one. I've looked for it since then, but haven't been able to locate it.

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