The Nutritional Value of Gnocchi & Regular Pasta

Gnocchi con pomodoro
A bowl of gnocchi with tomato sauce and basil leaves. (Image: vertmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Gnocchi and pasta can both be a healthful part of your diet. Their nutritional value depends on many variables, including the ingredients with which they are made, the type of sauce you serve them with and of course the serving size. Paying attention to how you prepare gnocchi and pasta helps ensure they add nutritional value to your diet.

Gnocchi

Gnocchi are a small, dense pasta usually made from potatoes, eggs and flour. They can add bulk to soups or be the main component of a meal. According to FitDay.com, 1 cup of potato gnocchi contains 12.99 grams of fat, 7.94 of which are saturated; 4.69 grams, or 9 percent, of your daily protein needs; 629.92 milligrams, or one-quarter, of your daily sodium needs; 11 percent of your daily allowance for carbohydrates; and 11 percent of your daily requirements for vitamins A, thiamin and niacin. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyes, skin, teeth, skeletal tissue and mucus membranes, according to MedlinePlus.com. Potato gnocchi also contain small amounts of iron, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and phosphorus. The same 1-cup serving of gnocchi delivers 243 milligrams of potassium, which is just over 5 percent of the recommended daily intake.

Pasta

According to North Dakota State University, most American pastas are made from durum wheat that is milled to make semolina flour. The flour is mixed with water to form a dough, then pressed through a metal die to form pasta, which is dried and packed for sale. When at least 5.5 percent of a pasta's volume is eggs, it is labeled "egg noodles." Most pastas are fortified with iron and B vitamins, including folic acid, which is especially important for a healthy pregnancy. One cup of cooked pasta is the standard serving size, containing 200 calories and 2 grams of fiber. It also contains 39.44 grams, or 13 percent of your daily requirement, of carbohydrates, and 6.64 grams, or 13 percent, of your daily protein. Fortified pastas contain about 24 percent of your daily folic acid requirement, which helps prevent cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression and birth defects, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup also delivers 14 percent of your thiamin, 12 percent of your niacin and 11 percent of your daily need for iron.

Gnocchi and Pasta Alternatives

According to the American Dietetic Association, whole grain pastas contain three times as much fiber as white pastas, with 6 grams per cup. Whole grain pastas are made from wheat that includes the kernel of the grain, which adds nutrients, including naturally occurring B vitamins. People allergic to gluten can find pastas made from rice flour. One cup of rice flour pasta contains about 193 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Gnocchi can be made from sweet potatoes, which add vitamin A and more fiber.

Suggestions

Watch your portion size when serving pasta to ensure you do not overindulge. Measure 1 cup of cooked pasta before serving to become familiar with what a standard serving size looks like. Enhance your pasta with plenty of vegetables to add fiber and vitamins to your meal. You may want to choose white sauces rarely, as they are high in saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol. White sauces are also higher in empty calories than most red sauces. While one-half cup of marinara sauce contains 3 grams of fat and 110 calories, the same amount of alfredo sauce can contain 28 grams of fat and 300 calories. Dress a serving of whole wheat spaghetti with a half cup of fresh herbs, a sprinkling of red chili flakes, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper for a zesty, healthful alternative to spaghetti in cream sauce. Serve sweet potato gnocchi with a light grating of parmesan cheese and a big spinach salad for a balanced meal rich in both vitamins and flavor.

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