Italian food is very popular in America and many Italian dishes are very healthy. In fact, the Mediterranean diet is known for its low fat, low cholesterol dishes filled with plenty of nutritious vegetables. Not all Italian foods are healthy choices, though. Here are some dishes to avoid.
A typical serving of fettuccine alfredo has about 97 grams of fat, more fat than the average adult should eat in an entire day. To make matters worse, about half of that fat is saturated fat. The pasta itself is healthy enough but the butter, cream and Parmesan cheese in the sauce make for a very unhealthy meal. Choose a tomato-based sauce instead and your arteries will thank you.
A serving of eggplant parmigiana generally contains about 62 grams of fat, an entire day’s worth for the average person. The fat comes from the mozzarella cheese and oil the eggplant is fried in, which the breading just soaks up. If you’d like a healthy eggplant dish, try grilling it instead.
Thick Crust Pizza
A personal pepperoni pan pizza from Pizza Hut has 640 calories and 29 grams of fat. It also has 1530 milligrams of sodium, more than half the maximum amount a person should have in one day. If you add additional toppings, particularly more meat toppings, you’ll get even more fat, calories and sodium. When you have a hankering for pizza, try something more like the true Italian version of this popular dish. The pizza served in Italy typically has a very thin crust and is not greasy like American pizza.
Cheese manicotti has about 39 grams of fat, less than some of the other Italian dishes mentioned here but still more than half the amount of fat a person ought to have in one day. If you want something healthier, try a pasta dish that contains some veggies. Add just a little cheese for flavor.
The nutritional value of lasagna varies depending on the recipe. Vegetable lasagna or spinach lasagna usually has fewer calories and less fat than cheese lasagna or lasagna made with ground beef and cheese. A typical portion of lasagna with meat and cheese has about 50 grams of fat and 600 to 700 calories. For a healthy alternative, try making your own vegetable lasagna with low fat cheese.
Nutrition Action Health Letter. http://www.cspinet.org/nah/ital.html. When in Rome…
Life in Italy. http://www.lifeinitaly.com/food/italian-food-1.asp. Italian Food: Myth Versus Reality.