Is ravioli healthy? Here are the facts about nutrition, health benefits, and more about this delicious pasta!
Who else here is a HUGE pasta fan?
It’s cheap and can be a staple in many households, especially mine. We prepare it in many different ways and eat it at least once a week.
Pasta is a popular dish that can get a bad rap. Some people say carbs are bad, so avoid pasta. Is that really the case?
Today I’m focusing on ravioli because my family ate it recently and I’ve become obsessed with all the different types. Is ravioli a healthy choice? Let’s take a look at the facts.
What is ravioli?
Ravioli is a type of pasta that’s rolled out into a thin sheet and is square-shaped, that’s stuffed with different type of fillings. My family calls it a “pillow”, because that’s exactly what it looks like!
We typically buy frozen ravioli that’s stuffed with cheese. But you can find ones stuffed with meat and vegetables, too.
The nutrition facts below is for Priano Cheese Ravioli, found at Aldi in the freezer section.
A serving of ravioli here is 10 pieces:
Total fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 42 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Protein: 10 grams
Other things on the ingredient list include durum wheat flour that’s been fortified with vitamins, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.
Overall, this version of ravioli has a low amount of calories. And 10 grams of protein is a good amount that can help keep you full longer.
High in protein: Protein keeps you full and helps maintain muscle mass, which is important as you get older. Protein can also help with weight loss.
High in fiber: Some whole wheat versions are a good source of fiber, which helps reduce the risk of constipation. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease and can lower blood pressure.
Enriched with vitamins: Some types of ravioli are fortified with nutrients, which can be helpful if you’re not getting the vitamins you need every day- like Vitamin B.
High in calcium: Cheese, as a dairy product, is high in calcium. This helps keep bones strong.
Are the carbs in ravioli bad?
The low-carb and keto lifestyle has taken over the lives of a lot of people. These people say that carbs make you gain weight, so you should avoid them at all cost.
Here’s what you need to know about carbs.
The type of carb matters
One of the main reasons pasta is considered “bad” is that it can mess with blood sugar levels. It gives you a huge energy spike, and then a huge energy crash shortly afterward.
That’s because most pasta is made with refined flour, or white flour. This type of pasta is full of simple carbs, meaning there’s no fiber and it’s meant to give you quick energy.
Whole wheat pasta actually helps stabilize your blood sugars. This is full of complex carbs, which means the fiber in it helps digest your food more slowly. So instead of a huge energy spike, you have steady energy levels.
Both simple and complex carbs have their use, and neither is good or bad. It just depends on your goals and how you need energy in that moment.
Carbs don’t make you gain weight
Have you ever stepped on the scale after eating too much pasta the night before, and freak out because you’ve gained 5 pounds?
The truth is, you didn’t gain 5 pounds of fat. Most likely, you ate a lot of carb-filled foods like pasta, bread, and desserts. Carbs hold water; so the more you eat, the more water you retain.
After a few days of eating normally and drinking extra water, that water weight disappears.
The only way carbs can make you gain body fat is if you eat too much. A lot of carb-filled foods are made to taste good, which can cause you to eat more.
Use caution if you have health issues
I know that there are exceptions to every rule. People who have diabetes need to watch their carb intake, and they definitely need to work with their doctor to figure out what works best.
In general, carbs are a source of energy and are part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about the portion size.
Does ravioli help with weight loss?
One thing to remember is that the food itself does not cause weight loss. It’s all about how much you eat and how you prepare it.
That being said, the protein in ravioli keep you full longer, which means you may eat less throughout the day. That calorie deficit is what will help with weight loss.
The toppings can make a difference, too. A tomato-based sauce is lower in calories than a creamy Alfredo sauce. Higher calories CAN lead to weight gain. That doesn’t mean this is unhealthy; it’s just a fact.
What’s the healthiest ravioli to eat?
Overall, here’s what I look for:
- Fiber: Most ravioli made with refined flour doesn’t have much fiber. If you can find a whole wheat ravioli, grab that instead.
- Protein: It has to have a good amount of protein; otherwise I’ll be digging through the cabinets an hour later looking for more food.
- Taste: It has to taste good! Don’t buy a brand just because it has less calories, especially if you don’t like the taste.
Some are stuffed with a variety of cheeses and even vegetables and meat. Look for one that has enough protein to keep you full, and ingredients that give the perfect balance of taste and essential vitamins.
There is no “best choice” here; just whatever fits your needs the best.
How to add extra nutrition to ravioli
Even if the ravioli you choose is missing something like fiber, you can easily add healthy food to it to balance things out.
Use a nutrient-filled sauce
Tomato sauce naturally has some vegetables in it, which means extra vitamins. You can also puree extra vegetables in it, like carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
You can make a meat sauce with ground beef or turkey. Or even grill a chicken breast and place on top.
A cream sauce is fine, although it doesn’t hide vegetables as well. It also has a few extra grams of fat compared to marinara sauce, which amounts to more calories.
Add a healthy side
My general rule of thumb is: If my main dish doesn’t have fiber, add a side that does.
This could be as simple as steaming broccoli in the microwave. Or having a side salad.
Vegetables are high in fiber and are just a nutritious food in general to add to just about everything.
In the end, ravioli can be a good choice for a healthy diet. With the right ingredients, you can have a nutrient-filled meal with this amazing comfort food.