Angela Day spaghetti bonignase. Picture: Steve Lawrence 270809

Pasta makes the simplest of meals — but when you add a sauce, choose carefully for your health needs.

ANAEMIA: Bolognese

A beef bolognese sauce supplies more than 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of anaemia-protective iron.

This can be doubled by serving with a portion of wholewheat spaghetti (three times as rich in iron as white).

Serve with a leafy green salad to add folic acid (also important for healthy blood) and vitamin C (which boosts iron absorption).

SIGHT LOSS: Spinach and ricotta

Spinach is a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye that produces images.

High lutein intakes are linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration — a loss of central vision. Wilt in a big extra handful of leaves before serving to ensure you’re getting enough.


The high levels of oil in most brands of pesto mean that this pasta sauce is good for the heart, because the unsaturated fats help to lower cholesterol. Pesto with high levels of sunflower oil rather than olive oil are considered less authentic, but have the bonus of a high vitamin E content, providing 75 percent (per serving) of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of this antioxidant, which also protects arteries.


The addition of chilli in fiery arrabbiata can further boost the weight loss benefits of what is already a low- calorie tomato sauce. A study last year at Purdue University in the US found that eating chilli-laced food resulted in increased calorie burning and reduced food cravings.

HEART PROBLEMS: Tomato and basil

Recent evidence suggests that the antioxidant lycopene, found in tomato, inhibits blood clotting and may be protective against stroke. Lycopene is most easily absorbed by the body from cooked tomatoes, so pasta sauce is a good choice.

STRESS: Creamy mushroom

Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, such as thiamine and niacin, essential for keeping the nervous system in good shape. They are also one of the few vegetarian sources of vitamin D, a lack of which has been associated with low mood. Teaming with pasta boosts the de-stressing effect, as carbohydrates may increase production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain.

OSTEOPOROSIS: Cheese sauce

This traditional accompaniment for macaroni may not be good for your arteries or waistline (a 150g serving supplies around 200 calories and half your daily saturated fat), but it can contribute to keeping bones strong. Serve with smoked mackerel to add vitamin D, also vital for bones. - Daily Mail