Veggie Pasta: Healthier Choice or Marketing Hype?

Is colored pasta more nutritious than regular white noodles? Nutrition Diva takes a closer look.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
September 8, 2013

Nutrition Diva fan Charlie writes to ask about a new product she found at the grocery store. Ronzoni Garden Delight Pasta is "an enriched carrot, tomato and spinach pasta blend that provides a half serving of veggies in every 2 oz portion."  

"Is this kind if pasta actually better for you," Charlie asks, "or is it just a marketing ploy to make me feel better about buying it?"

The first place I would look is at the nutrition facts label. Let's review them closely:

On the left below is the label for the Garden Delight pasta. To the right is the label for Ronzoni's regular pasta. 

Garden Delight pasta                            Regular white pasta

You can see that there are some minor differences. The vegetable enriched pasta is slightly lower in calories and carbohydrates, slightly higher in protein and vitamin A.  The differences are so slight, however, that it's hard to imagine them having much impact on your health or nutrition.

The real question in my mind is whether this product really does offer the nutritional equivalent of a half serving of vegetables in every 2 ounce serving. Just for fun, I've created another nutrition facts label below that represents a serving of regular pasta with actual spinach, carrots, and tomatoes--just enough to equal a half-serving of vegetables.  

Look at the difference...particularly in the amount of vitamins A and C! Based on this quick and dirty analysis, it looks to me as if the powdered vegetables in this pasta are adding a bit of color but not much in the way of meaningful vegetable nutrition. I think the money you'd save by sticking with regular pasta would probably be better spent in the (nonpowdered) produce section! 

If you really want to amp up the vegetables quotient of your pasta dishes, try making spaghetti squash. See this video for a demo of how to prepare it. And be sure to check out this video on pasta portion sizes


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