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Is Eating Canned Pasta Sauce Healthy?

author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
Is Eating Canned Pasta Sauce Healthy?
Canned pasta sauce helps you put a meal on the table quickly. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Canned pasta sauce can be an indispensable ingredient when making spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and other pasta dishes. Unprocessed choices are typically healthier than processed foods, but canned pasta sauce can be a healthy option if you do not have time to make your own tomato sauce from scratch. Read the nutrition facts label to confirm the sauce fits into your meal plan.

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Basic Nutrition Information

A cup of meatless tomato sauce contains 167 calories and only 1 gram of fat. It has 5 grams of protein, or 10 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet, and 34 grams of carbohydrates. Increase the dietary fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A content of your sauce by adding vegetables, such as carrots or bell peppers. Choose tomato-based pasta sauce instead of Alfredo or other cream-based sauces, which can be high in calories and fat. Meat sauce can be high in fat and cholesterol.

Canned Pasta Sauce Provides Iron

A half-cup of canned pasta sauce provides 2.2 milligrams of iron, or 12 percent of the daily value for iron based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Iron is an essential mineral and a component of healthy red blood cells. Inadequate intake can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin C increases your body’s ability to absorb iron from pasta sauce. Add spinach or broccoli to your pasta sauce to get more vitamin C.

Limit Your Sodium

A half-cup of canned pasta sauce contains 647 milligrams of sodium. Sodium is essential for regulating water balance in your body, but a high-sodium diet can cause high blood pressure and a higher risk for stroke and kidney disease. Healthy adults should limit daily consumption to a maximum of 2,300 milligrams per day. To limit your sodium, choose low-sodium pasta sauce and do not add salt to your pasta while cooking it.

Consider the Entire Meal

If you have canned pasta sauce on hand, you might be more motivated to cook a healthy meal than you would if you did not use the sauce. Cooking for yourself instead of opting for take-out or delivery can leave you with a healthier dinner. Choose whole-grain pasta and lean meats, and use plenty of vegetables to compose a healthy meal. Limit full-fat cheeses, fatty meat, such as sausage and ground beef, and refined grains.

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