Which is Healthier: Pasta or Pizza?


Sometimes what you crave for a meal is something Italian in flavor. Garlic, basil, and other spices, tomato sauce, pasta, and, of course, freshly grated cheese. You're craving Italian, but you want to keep calories in check. So what should you order, pasta or pizza? A nutritionist weighs in.

Portion vs. Serving

How can pizza—which is essentially bread slathered in high-fat ingredients—be less fattening than pasta noodles with Parmesan and tomato sauce? The answer is simple: portion size. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), there's a difference between a portion and a serving. The serving size is what the manufacturer lists on the product's nutrition label. A portion is what a person chooses to eat in one sitting—be it one serving or three.

Which Is Better Pizza or Pasta

"Most restaurants give you at least six times the recommended ½-cup serving size of pasta," says New York City nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg, RD. Real talk: You're probably not going to eat just half a cup. On the other hand, she explains, "a pizza slice is like automatic portion control." After each piece, you're forced to stop and think, "Am I still hungry?"

Plus, pasta sauces can be loaded with hidden oil, cheese, or sugar; pizza sauce is often simply crushed tomatoes since mozzarella is the star ingredient (which explains pizza's relatively high saturated-fat content). Add veggies on top and you get a little nutritional boost, too.

Still craving pasta? Ask about ordering from the children's menu or look at the appetizer menu. You could also opt for something from the side order menu with a tomato-based sauce.

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