Food Fight!: Pasta vs. Pizza

These two Italian delights are going head-to-head! See which mouthwatering favorite will come out on top.
Related To:
pasta and pizza

179440800

Spaghetti with tomato sauce

Photo by: Lisovskaya

Lisovskaya

They're in a serious tie for tastiness -- but which is healthier, a bowl of spaghetti or few slices of pizza? Find out which cheesy, carb-y wonder has the most redeeming value in this (tomato-spattered) showdown between pasta and pie!

Pizza

With 400-plus calories a slice (more if you go heavy on the pepperoni or cheese), two or three slices can add up to eating close to half the daily recommended average of 2,000 calories. Pizzeria slices also tend to have a hefty amount of artery-clogging saturated fat and sodium.

Supermarket frozen pizzas can go either way. Some traditional brands are also high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. They are also usually made with a white-flour crust and contain a laundry list of preservatives. That said, it's getting easier to find healthier frozen pizzas (take a look how these various brands stacked up in a recent taste test).

Opting to make pizza from scratch can help home cooks control the ingredients and up the nutritional value. Add whole grains (by choosing whole-wheat pizza dough), add vegetables (by piling on favorites like mushrooms, peppers and onions) and include a touch of good cheese. Serve with a side salad or cup of soup for a nicely balanced meal.

Pasta

When ordering pasta at a restaurant, the calories are almost always out of control. A dinner order of fettuccine alfredo at The Olive Garden can rack up 1,220 calories and 1,350 milligrams of sodium (and that's without the salad and bread sticks). Creamy sauces and mounds of cheese can make any pasta dish less than healthy.

As usual, making your own is probably the best bet, since you can choose the ingredients and add-ins. Although pasta has been getting shunned from almost every new diet plan and has a bad rep, choosing whole-grain varieties is in line with the USDA's dietary guideline to make half of any grains you eat whole grains. If wheat isn't your thing, many pasta alternatives can be found on store shelves. These noodles are usually made from grains or legumes, including quinoa, soy, brown rice and beans.

No matter which pasta you choose, the portions need to stay in check. One cup of cooked spaghetti has 220 calories, but many people serve themselves 3 or 4 cups in one meal. By bulking up smaller pasta portions with grilled chicken, veggies and fresh herbs -- and using ingredients like cheese, cream and oil sparingly -- it's more than possible to build a well-balanced pasta meal.

Healthy Eats Winner: When it comes to ease of controlling portions and toppings -- both in restaurants and at home -- pizza is the champ.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. See Toby's full bio »

Next Up

Take Food Network Magazine's Pizza Poll

The editors of Food Network Magazine want to know all about your favorite slice. Vote now and you'll find the results in an upcoming issue!

Guess What America's Favorite Comfort Food Is

The food Americans go to most when they need a little pick-me-up is …

What to Eat the Night Before Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving means travel, traffic — and, for many families, takeout. Get ideas for great options from coast to coast.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

Nutrition news this week about pizza, diabetes and salt.

Red or White Pizza: Which Do You Prefer?

Food Network Magazine wants to know which side you're on. Vote in the poll below and tell FN Dish whether you prefer to nosh on red or white pizza.

Weekend Cookout: Four Grilled Pizza Recipes

Grilling pizza crust gives it a deliciously crisp exterior. Browse through Food Network's grilled pizza recipes now.

150-Calorie Snacks

Snacks are an important part of a well-balanced diet and should contain healthy nutrients like calcium, protein, whole grains, vitamins or minerals. Aim for 1 to 2 snacks per day that are around 150 calories each. Skip those expensive snack packs and try these ten filling 150 calorie snacks instead.

Related Pages