advice / Health / healthy / Uncategorized / weight / weight loss

The Unhealthiest Pasta Sauces

When trying to stay slim, pasta isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind as a diet food. That’s not surprising, but what is? That the pasta itself isn’t the only waistline-widening problem; it’s also what you’re tossing on top of it. That’s right, I’m talking about pasta sauce. It may be shocking to hear, but some of the most popular store-bought bottles are just as waist-widening as the carbs they coat. That’s because many manufactured bottles are made with a list of less-than-stellar ingredients like soybean oil, added sugars, excess sodium, and preservatives.

To help you avoid the worst of the bunch, I rounded up  19 unhealthiest pasta sauces. To qualify for my bad list, these jars had to contain added sugars, use inflammatory vegetable oils instead of heart-healthy olive oil, and be saturated with belly-bloating salt. 

Ragu Old World Style Marinara

ragu old world style marinara

PER 1/2 CUP: 80 calories, 2.5 (0 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ragu explains that this is their “richest, thickest recipe.” After glancing at the ingredients list we knew why. It appears that the brand uses calcium chloride to keep the sauce nice and thick rather than by just adding more tomatoes. While the FDA claims this additive is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), I rather Ragu use more of the nutritionally-benefiting fruit! Research has shown that tomatoes help battle cancer, stop belly bloat, and can even help to prevent heart disease.

Emeril’s Tomato Basil

emerils tomato basil

PER 1/2 CUP: 80 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated), 430 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Tomato Basil is a marriage and personal flavor profile we know and love. Yet, our hearts were broken when we found out the said-to-be-classic Italian celebrity chef uses more soybean oil in his formulation than traditional olive oil than an actual classic recipe would typically include. I can’t be on board with that change since a 2016 review in the journal Nutrients suggests that consuming more omega-6 laden foods, such as soybean oil, than omega-3-laden foods can actually increase appetite and put you at risk for weight gain. In fact, the recipe uses more of the saturated fat.

Barilla Marinara

barilla marinara

PER 1/2 CUP: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 2 g protein

From pizza to pasta or even with grilled vegetables, this sauce was close to being an Eat This! approved pick—that’s because compared to it’s competitors on the shelves it’s relatively low in fat, sodium, and only uses extra virgin olive oil. But unfortunately, Barilla piled on way too much added sugar for our comfort zone.

Emerils Alfredo Sauce

emerils four cheese alfredo sauce

PER 1/4 CUP: 60 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

We get it. Sometimes there is really nothing better than some creamy, delicious, cheese sauce. But this is not the way to do it. The celebrity chef crafts this bottle with plenty of additives like soybean oil and whey powder concentrate (yes, just like the protein powders you put in smoothies). And even worse, unlike a fresh version of a dairy-based sauce, this bottle dishes you little to no bone-strengthening calcium at all.

Ragu Old World Style Traditional

ragu old world style traditional sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 80 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 480 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 2 g protein

Like its cousin, Old World Style Marinara, this sauce is far from “Traditional.” This sauce hands you an excess amount of sugar and soybean oil. Did you know that by consuming too much soy you’re prone to inflammation, gas, and weight gain?

Francesco Rinaldi Hearty Tomato & Basil

francesco rinaldi hearty tomato basil

PER 1/2 CUP: 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Fun fact: the founder of Francesco Rinaldi got his background by working for Ragu in his younger days. And despite his now home-team advantage, he couldn’t live up to the well-known brand’s reputation. In this case, the hearty sauce is a real heart-breaker! Just one serving holds more sodium than a large McDonald’s Fries!

Ragu Roasted Garlic Parmesan

ragu roasted garlic parmesan sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 200 calories, 18 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 680 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 4 g protein

Ragu tried to fool you by printing their nutrition facts for a serving of ¼ of a cup. So at first glance, you think you’re only consuming 100 calories, but that’s just for a quarter cup! Double up on your serving size and you’ll be taking in 200 calories—that’s a mini snack—without even accounting for the pasta that will go along with it. Not to mention, a half cup of this cheesy sauce is packed with a whopping 18 grams of fat—that’s as much fat as a Burger King Double Cheese Burger.

Francesco Rinaldi Traditional Flavors Sweet & Tasty Tomato

francescp rinaldi traditional flavors sweet tasty tomato

PER 1/2 CUP: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar) 2 g protein

Sweet and Tasty may sound great, but that’s because it resembles something like a dessert. A look at the label shows that this marinara sauce is made with an acceptable seven ingredients. But the whopping 11 grams of sugar it packs isn’t worth it when splurging on a carb-filled dish.

Emeril’s Homestyle Marinara

emerils homestyle marinara

PER 1/2 CUP: 90 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 2 g protein

We think “homestyle” should resemble the kind of food you could make with your very own ingredients. That means fresh ingredients, no preservatives, preferably flat-belly friendly. This sauce is quite the opposite thanks to its extreme amounts of soybean oil and sugar.

Prego Heart Smart Traditional

prego heart smart traditional

PER 1/2 CUP: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein

There’s no doubt about it: Labeling food to be good for your heart is a bold move. With a low-sodium count, this bottle of sauce would easily satisfy the Rx for your cardiologist because it’s lower in sodium compared to the other bottles they produce. But after sodium comes sugar. And in this case, this bottle is exploding with a solid 10 grams. Not too mention the ingredients list shows excessive amounts of foods that cause inflammation like the omega 6’s found in the canola oil. For all these reasons, this bottle isn’t as heart-friendly as we’d like.

Ragu Homestyle Thick & Hearty Traditional

ragu thick and hearty traditional homestyle

PER 1/2 CUP: 100 calories, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 3 g protein

Generally, home cooked meals help your efforts to shed a few pounds when you’re trying to lean out. This sauce, on the other hand, does quite the opposite. High in calories, inflammatory fats, and sugar—Ragu has plenty of better options to choose from.

Bertolli Tomato Basil

bertolli tomato basil

PER 1/2 CUP: 90 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Another brand taking a chance on the epic flavor combination. And yet again, the bottled version couldn’t live up to our standards. Bertolli did a decent job by eliminating the use of canola oil but squashed its own efforts by adding inflammatory soybean oil. But unfortunately, one serving of this sauce is even saltier than a serving of Rold Gold Tiny Twist Pretzels!

Prego Traditional

prego traditional sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 2 g protein

Like its competitors, this sauce is far from the real deal. This sauce is void of the traditional extra virgin olive oil and only contains canola oil. But to make things even worse, the sauce has 10 grams of sugar–that’s as much as Dunkin’ Donuts’ French Cruller.

Newman’s Own Vodka Sauce

newmans own vodka sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 120 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 5 g protein

We really do appreciate Newman’s effort to nix the commonly used soybean oil, and eliminating additives. But a sauce like this adds too many calories to be in the clear. Not too mention, it’s drenched in fat—five grams to be exact. And it doesn’t stop just there: The bottle holds too much sodium and sugar qualifying making it over-the-top.

Ragu Chunky Tomato, Garlic & Onion

ragu chunky tomato garlic onion

PER 1/2 CUP: 90 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (2 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ragu knew what the deal was with this sauce. Choose this and you’ll be “chunky.” It has more sugar than a bowl of Lucky Charms—yes the marshmallow-filled cereal. Worse? This choice also gives you a helping of fat from inflammatory soybean oil and it contains more sodium than 2 bags of Lay’s Chips.

Bertolli Organic Traditional Tomato & Basil

bertolli organic sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 90 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 2 g protein

Bertolli definitely took a step in the right direction by going organic. But that doesn’t make up for the bottle’s high serving of calories, fat, sodium, and sugar when compared to other brands.

Prego Artisan Three Cheese

prego artisan three cheese

PER 1/2 CUP: 140 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

Prego may market this bottle as “Made With Real Cheese” but we were disappointed to see that both parmesan and romano fall under the ingredients list of “contains less than 2% of.” And to make things even worse, the brand also lists the serving size for ¼ cup, which is generally half of the serving you’d be using. So to the consumers who are under the impression that they’re only getting 70 calories and 6 grams of fat, think again. You’re closer to 140 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 620 milligrams of sodium!

Mid’s Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Mids italian sausage pasta sauce

PER 1/2 CUP: 140 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 830 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 6 g protein

We give major kudos to Mid’s for using the finest, locally raised USDA pork and quality romano cheese in their sauces, but i was surprised by the sky-high sodium levels. And considering tomato paste is the second ingredient and there are no diced tomatoes, that leads me to believe that most of the sugar in this jar is from the white stuff.

Barilla Traditional Basil Pesto

Barilla traditional basil pesto

PER 1/4 CUP: 200 calories, 19 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 600 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

At first glance, this pesto might sound like a great choice with the addition of spinach. But after carefully reading the ingredients list, this “traditional” pesto loads up on sunflower oil versus the classic extra-virgin olive oil. Not to mention, it’s extremely high in calories for just a quarter cup serving and is filled with belly-bloating sodium.

Final Thoughts

This post is for anyone who is curious to know what sauces are the worst. Soon i will be posting my best pasta sauces so keep an eye out for that. And like always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate in reaching out and i will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

 Thank You!

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Hello, my name Is Amanda and I'm the woman behind AmandaExplainsIt. I'm a Free Spirit, coffee sipping blogger and I embrace all of the messy parts of life.I'm a mommy of two precious doggies and an advocate for food allergies, animals, and nutrition In real life. I've always loved writing and writing a blog fulfills that. I'm all about spirituality and going with the flow of things. I'm new to the beauty world and I'm excited to share what I learn along the way. Come back often because I post often and I post things related to but not limited to Beauty Reviews, Product Reviews, Spirituality, Nutrition and Food Allergies, and Gluten-Free Recipes. If you like what you read let's be friends. ~XOXO A.


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