Penne is similar to the other types of pasta when it comes to calories and nutrition. If you're trying to figure out how healthy or unhealthy your love for pasta is, here's what you need to know about penne pasta's nutrition profile.
Penne is a cylindrical-shaped pasta that is usually about 2 inches long. The word "penne" means "pens" or "quills" in Italian. The diagonal cuts at the ends of the cylindrical pasta pieces resemble the nibs of fountain pens or quills.
The smooth type of penne is known as "penne mostaccioli," which means "small mustaches," whereas the ridged type of penne is known as "penne rigate." Nutritionally speaking, they are both the same; however, ridged penne absorbs more flavor.
Penne Pasta Calories
According to the USDA's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pasta is part of the grain group of foods, which should make up roughly one-fifth of your meals. The recommended grain intake for a 2,000-calorie diet is 6 ounces of grains per day, of which at least half should be from whole grains.
Many grocery stores carry both types of pasta, i.e., whole-grain pasta and pasta made of refined grains. As part of a healthy eating pattern, the USDA recommends replacing the refined grains in your diet with whole grains, because you get more fiber and nutrition for the same amount of calories.
Penne Pasta Nutrition
Penne pasta's nutrition profile is pretty much similar to the other types of pasta. The majority of the calories in all types of pasta come from carbs; pasta has very little fat. The amount of nutrition in penne pasta varies depending on whether it is refined, whole grain or enriched pasta.
One cup of regular penne pasta, which is usually unenriched pasta made of refined flour, has 70.94 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 12.39 grams of protein and 1.43 grams of fat. It also has 212 milligrams of potassium, 180 milligrams of phosphorus and 17 micrograms of folate.
Whole-grain penne pasta on the other hand has much more dietary fiber and nutrition. One cup of whole-grain penne pasta has 10.2 grams of fiber, 424 milligrams of phosphorus, 28 micrograms of folate, 136 milligrams of magnesium and 6.11 milligrams of iron.
The USDA recommends that if you're buying pasta made of refined flour, you should opt for an enriched variety that has nutrients added to it.
Eating Pasta Healthfully
Whole-grain pasta can be a part of a healthy diet, provided that you're also careful of how you serve it.
The USDA notes that foods like pasta, burgers, tacos and pizzas that contain a lot of cheese and meat tend to have a lot of saturated fat and calories. The Cleveland Clinic suggests replacing cheesy, buttery and creamy sauces with herbs and spices to help keep your saturated fat intake minimal. This will also help you cut down on those pasta calories.
According to Tufts University's School of Nutrition and Policy, adding lots of veggies and protein like fish or chicken to pasta can help add some nutrition to your pasta calories, and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil can help make the dish more filling. Cooking the pasta al dente can help slow down the rate at which it is digested.
- National Pasta Association: “Penne”
- National Pasta Association: “Penne – Mostaccioli”
- National Pasta Association: “Penne – Rigate”
- USDA: “Pasta, Dry, Unenriched”
- National Pasta Association: “Portion Sizes”
- USDA: “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans”
- USDA: “Whole Grain Penne Pasta”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Fat: What You Need to Know”
- Tufts University’s School of Nutrition and Policy: “Healthy Meals With Pasta”