Eat Healthy with Italian Food

Italian and Chinese cuisines are probably the most ubiquitous of all cuisines in the world – because they’re delicious, and can be healthy too. We’ve already talked about healthy options in Chinese food.

So, how can you really eat healthy Italian food?

healthy Italian food optionsLet’s start with the basics. There are two types of sauces – cheese based sauce and vegetables based sauce (tomato, pesto, garlic, etc.). Cheese, as we all know is higher in fat. Now, fat is not bad, but in a whole dish with cheese based sauce, it adds up to a lot of calories. And the most basic reason why people get fat, is because they consume more calories than they expend.

Besides this, the vegetables based sauces like those made from tomato supply you with lots of lycopene, which has been proven to reduce chances of prostate cancer in men.

Pasta is primarily carbohydrates. Whole wheat pasta is better since it has a lower glycemic index and has higher protein and fiber content, helping you build those muscles, to burn more calories! :)

Eating grilled meat (chicken, fish, red meat) as a main course is also a good option. The meat is high in protein and red meat is high in iron as well. Salmon is high in omega 3 oils. Often, its grilled in olive oil, which has a high content of cholesterol lowering power. The fat from olive oil keeps you full for longer along with the heart healthy benefits of olive oil.

A side dish of mashed potatoes in Italian food is very tempting. Potato is not bad by itself, but mashed potatoes are often loaded with cream and butter to make them soft and delicious. That’s where the hidden calories reside. Besides, a side of other grilled veggies would give you lots of nutrition. And from the grill, they’ve acquired a hint of sweet due to caramelization.

If you love the bread basket, take it easy. Ask the restaurant for whole wheat bread. You’ll be surprised how often they have it, but don’t bring it out!

I have a sweet tooth, so desserts are hard to resist :) But portion control is key. Split a dessert with your friends to minimize the damage. You could also end with a cheese platter with your friends. As a general rule, hard cheese has less fat than soft cheese.

Among the places with healthy Italian food options in Delhi are – Flavours (Defence Colony), Big Chill (multiple locations in Delhi), and any of the nicer restaurants now cater to healthy lifestyles.

Buon appetito!

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  • kiran

    Frankly, please do not mind, but I would like to point lots of mistakes in this post.

    1. Not all cheese sauces are bad. Go for fresh mozzarella cheese. The calorie content is same as tomato sauce. There are other low fat cheese options available too.

    2. Wheat pasta is not a source of protein but carbs and fibre. And it does not help to build muscle.

    3. Red Meat? Gosh! that is a sin. Loaded with fat. I ask you to do an experiment. Boil some red meat in water. Do not strain that water. Along with meat keep that water in your refrigerator overnight. Morning you will see a layer of disgusting fat- like ghee. That is what goes inside you.

    Now last one is a -suggestion -for best- no, bestest -Italian restaurant in Delhi. It is called San Gimignano in Imperial. It is named after a heritage village in Tuscany in Italy. They bake things in front of you in a brick furnace not Electric Oven.

    Also to be tried are Bacci in Sunder Nagar and Azuro in PVR complex Saket.

    Agree with u for Flavors and Big Chill. Awesome places.

  • Fitho

    @kiran- with respect to the ‘mistakes’ you noted above:
    1. I never said cheese sauces are bad, but a whole dish with cheese sause can have a lot of hidden calories. Now, fresh mozzarella maybe lower in calories, but it is actually not used to make cheese sauce.
    2. Wheat is a source of protein, carbs and fiber. To build muscle, you need both protein and carbs. Protein is the building material, but water and carbs are used for delivery to the muscle fiber. And wheat provides a combination of both.
    3. Lets not over-generalize to create hatred for red meat. High consumption of red meat is associated with health issues. With regard to the fat content, red meat has plenty of lean cuts. Beef, lamb and mutton have plenty of lean cuts. Game meats are even leaner.

    At the end of the day, its for you to decide, what’s healthy for you, and no one knows that better than you!

  • kiran

    You can make cheese sauce (delicious one) with fresh mozzarella cheese. Restaurants don’t do it because it is expensive and takes lot more time and patience to do it. But if you go to high end, fine cuisine and specify, they would do it for you.

    Wheat Pasta has no protein but complex carb.
    Whole wheat pasta, 1 cup cooked has 37.2gm Carb and 3.9 gm fibre.

    Red Meat is bad for health.

    Nutritionists hardly need more evidence about the potentially negative health effects of eating red meat. For starters, the saturated animal fat in red meat contributes to heart disease and atherosclerosis. Recent research also shows that frequent red meat eaters face twice the risk of colon cancer as those who indulge less often. Red meat is also thought to increase the risks of rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis.

    Meanwhile, according to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian diets can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and other debilitating medical conditions. While red meat is a key source of protein and vitamin B12 in North American diets, nutritionists explain that properly planned meat-free diets easily provide these important nutrients while keeping you healthier in the long run.


  • Fitho

    I guess you searched for ‘whole wheat pasta nutrition’ on google and pasted the first result :) Here’s a link to the same: It says that 50 gms of whole wheat pasta contains 7.5 gms of protein, 37.2 gm of carbs and 3.9 gm of fibre
    As does any reliable nutrition source.

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