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6 Healthy marinara sauces on Grocery Shelves—and 4 to Avoid

5 Mins read

Marinara sauce is a staple in many households, providing a flavorful and convenient option for pasta nights. However, not all marinara sauces are created equal, and it’s important to choose ones that are both delicious and healthy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of marinara sauces, providing you with expert recommendations and tips to help you find and enjoy the healthiest options available.

Understanding the Importance of Choosing Healthy Marinara Sauce

Before we dive into the specifics of healthy marinara sauce options, let’s first understand why it’s crucial to make informed choices when it comes to this pantry staple. While marinara sauce can be a nutritious addition to your meals, some brands pack their products with unnecessary added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. By selecting healthier options, you can enjoy the benefits of marinara sauce without compromising your health goals.

The Nutritional Benefits of Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce, with its tomato base, offers several nutritional benefits. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which supports immune function and collagen production. They also contain fiber, promoting healthy digestion, and antioxidants like lycopene, known for their potential anti-inflammatory properties. By choosing a healthy marinara sauce, you can maximize these nutritional benefits.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Healthy Marinara Sauce

When browsing the grocery store shelves for marinara sauce, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure you’re making a healthy choice. Let’s explore these factors in detail.

Total Calories

While marinara sauce is generally low in calories, some brands may add ingredients like oil, cream, or sugar, which can significantly increase the calorie content. Be mindful of the serving size and opt for sauces that are lower in calories to keep your meals light and balanced.

Sodium Content

Sodium is a common ingredient in marinara sauce as a preservative and flavor enhancer. However, excessive sodium intake can have negative effects on your health, such as high blood pressure. Look for options with lower sodium content to maintain a healthy diet.

Added Sugar

To balance the natural acidity of tomatoes, some brands add sugar to their marinara sauce. While a touch of sweetness can enhance the flavor, excessive added sugars can contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Choose sauces with minimal or no added sugar to keep your meals healthier.

Expert-Recommended Healthy Marinara Sauce Brands

To help you navigate the overwhelming options available, we’ve consulted dietitian experts to bring you their top recommendations for healthy marinara sauce brands. These brands have been selected based on their nutritional profiles, taste, and overall quality.

1. Barilla Traditional Tomato Pasta Sauce

Healthy marinara sauce

Barilla Traditional Tomato Pasta Sauce

Barilla Traditional Tomato Pasta Sauce is a top choice for those seeking a healthy and delicious marinara sauce. With only 45 calories per serving and less than 1 gram of total fat, this sauce offers a light and flavorful option. It also contains 2 grams of fiber and 0 grams of added sugar, making it a nutritious choice for pasta lovers.

2. Victoria Low Sodium Marinara Sauce

Healthy marinara sauce

Victoria Low Sodium Marinara Sauce

For individuals looking to reduce their sodium intake, Victoria Low Sodium Marinara Sauce is an excellent option. With only 120 mg of sodium per serving, this sauce provides the classic marinara flavor without compromising your health. It’s important to keep in mind that diets high in sodium can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so choosing a low-sodium option like Victoria can be beneficial.

3. Thrive Market Organic Classic Marinara Sauce

Thrive Market Organic Classic Marinara Sauce

Thrive Market Organic Classic Marinara Sauce offers a healthy and flavorful choice for those seeking an organic option. With 70 calories per serving and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, this sauce provides a balanced nutritional profile. It’s also low in added sugar, containing just 2 grams per serving.

4. Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Primal Kitchen Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce is a great choice for health-conscious individuals. This sauce contains no added sugar and is made with avocado oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, known for their potential heart health benefits. With 90 calories and 2 grams of fiber per serving, Primal Kitchen offers a nutritious option for your pasta dishes.

5. Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce

Healthy marinara sauce

Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce

Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce is a premium option that combines taste and quality. While it is slightly higher in calories and total fat compared to other options, it offers the richness of olive oil and chunks of juicy tomatoes. With no added sugar and a delicious flavor, Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce is worth the indulgence for special occasions.

6. 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Pasta Sauce

Healthy marinara sauce

365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Pasta Sauce

If you’re looking for an affordable and healthy marinara sauce, 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Pasta Sauce is an excellent choice. Made with all organic ingredients, this sauce contains just 60 calories and 2.5 grams of total fat per serving. It’s also low in added sugar, making it a wholesome option for your pasta dishes.

Marinara Sauces to Avoid

While we’ve highlighted the top recommendations for healthy marinara sauces, it’s equally important to be aware of sauces that may not align with your health goals. Here are some marinara sauces to avoid due to their higher sodium and added sugar content.

1. Classico Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce

Classico Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce

Classico Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce may seem like a healthier option at first glance, but a closer look at its nutrition label reveals higher sodium and added sugar content. With 500 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar per serving, this sauce may not be the best choice for individuals watching their sodium and sugar intake.

2. Bertolli Tomato Basil Sauce

Bertolli Tomato Basil Sauce

Bertolli Tomato Basil Sauce, while modest in calories, contains just 1 gram of fiber and 11 grams of total sugars per serving. This higher sugar content may not be ideal for those trying to reduce their sugar intake. It’s important to make mindful choices when selecting sauces to maintain a balanced diet.

3. Prego Creamy Tomato Basil Italian Sauce

Prego Creamy Tomato Basil Italian Sauce

Prego Creamy Tomato Basil Italian Sauce, although creamy and flavorful, contains 3 grams of saturated fat, 460 milligrams of sodium, and 9 grams of added sugar per serving. These higher levels of unhealthy fats, sodium, and added sugars may not align with a healthy eating plan.

4. Francesco Rinaldi Sweet & Tasty Marinara Sauce

Francesco Rinaldi Sweet & Tasty Marinara Sauce

Francesco Rinaldi Sweet & Tasty Marinara Sauce may appear to be a lower-calorie option, but it contains 440 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of sugar per serving. The higher sugar and sodium content make it a less optimal choice for individuals seeking healthier marinara sauces.

Tips for Enjoying Healthy Marinara Sauce

Now that you have a selection of healthy marinara sauce options, it’s time to enjoy them in your meals. Here are some tips to make the most of your healthy marinara sauce:

  • Pair it with whole grain pasta: Choose whole grain pasta to increase the fiber and nutrient content of your meal.
  • Load up on vegetables: Add a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and spinach to your marinara sauce to boost its nutritional value.
  • Experiment with herbs and spices: Enhance the flavor of your marinara sauce by adding herbs and spices like basil, oregano, and garlic.
  • Use it as a pizza sauce: Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on whole grain pizza crust and top it with your favorite veggies and lean proteins for a healthier homemade pizza.
  • Make it a dipping sauce: Marinara sauce can be a delicious and healthier alternative to creamy dips. Pair it with whole grain breadsticks or vegetable sticks for a nutritious snack.
  • Control portion sizes: While marinara sauce can be healthy, it’s important to control your portion sizes to maintain a balanced diet. Stick to recommended serving sizes to avoid excessive calorie and sodium intake.

Conclusion

Choosing a healthy marinara sauce doesn’t mean compromising on flavor. By considering factors like total calories, sodium content, and added sugars, you can find options that align with your health goals. The expert-recommended brands mentioned in this guide offer flavorful and nutritious choices for your pasta nights. Remember to pair your marinara sauce with whole grain pasta, load up on vegetables, and control portion sizes to enjoy a delicious and healthy meal. With these tips in mind, you can savor the taste of marinara sauce while prioritizing your well-being.
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