Which Type of Pasta Sauce is Healthiest?

Which Type of Pasta Sauce is Healthiest?

April 21, 2019   22 Comments

Which type of pasta sauce is the healthiest? It can be hard to figure it out in the store.

I have spent many hours standing and staring at products trying to decide if I should buy them. I have take a look at Low Sugar Tomato Sauce.

There are a couple of easy rules when looking at pasta sauce. Avoid Afredo or Vodka sauce (or anything that adds cream). These are high in fat and not worth the calories.

But, how do you decide which pasta sauce is the healthiest when it comes to all the jars of tomato based sauces?

I took another long walk in the supermarket to see what I could find. First, I thought that a lower calorie option would be the best. The good news is that all of the sauces that I looked at have the same serving size of 1/2 cup so it is easy to compare them. Don’t get me started on bread.

This Prego Lower Calorie sauce has these nutrition facts:

45 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 8 g sugar (3 grams added), 2 g protein, 1 g fiber, 410 mg sodium, 2 Freestyle SmartPts

This is the kinda thing that I hate. There is ZERO fat but Prego added sugar!! No!! Give me fat for flavor any day over sugar especially in a food like tomato sauce. Who wants their sauce to taste like ketchup? If I wanted ketchup on my spaghetti - I would just use ketchup.

This was one of the worst tomato sauces that I have ever tasted in my life. It was sweet and watery. Avoid this product!

Cost: $2

I decided to take a look at Barilla because it seemed like a solid choice. Here are the nutrition facts for the marinara:

60 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 14 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 2 g protein, 3 g fiber, 420 mg sodium, 3 Freestyle SmartPts

Seven grams of sugar is perfectly fine for a jar of tomato sauce. There is sugar in the ingredients but Barilla couldn’t have added very much as the Ragu Simple (no sugar added) also has seven grams of sugar.

This was okay. I thought it was much better than the Prego Low Calorie but it was a bit boring. I would use this inside a dish (like for a baked pasta casserole) but not as the main event.

Cost: $2.10

Ragu Simply wants you to know that no sugar has been added. Here are the nutrition facts:

70 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 490 mg sodium, 3 Freestyle SmartPts

I really liked the chunky in this sauce and the flavor. My only concern is the sodium which is about half my daily amount in one serving!! If you aren’t worried about your salt intake - this is a good choice both from an ingredient stand point.

They did add sweet potato which I thought was strange for a tomato sauce but I didn’t taste it. I like sweet potato and it is packed with nutrients so I don’t think that changes my evaluation.

Cost: $2.69

Newman’s Own Marinara is organic, non-GMO, and has no sugar added. It was the most expensive jar and the most flavorful of the group.

80 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 11 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 2 g protein, 3 g fiber, 380 mg sodium, 3 Freestyle SmartPts

Sometimes spending a little more money is worth it. I liked the flavor and the texture of this tomato sauce - it was not sweet and fairly thick. They used fennel which I think was a delicious addition. This sauce has a reasonable amount of sodium per serving and NO ADDED SUGAR.

I enjoyed this on a spoon right out of the container (I did not put the spoon back in).

Cost $3.49

My favorite sauce is a homemade marinara sauce but I will eat Newman’s Own Organic Marinara in a pinch.

What is your favorite healthy jarred tomato sauce? How much does it cost? Thanks for sharing!!

Other posts you might like:


Low Sugar Tomato Sauce

Low Sugar Tomato Sauce

How hard is it to find a low sugar tomato sauce? Well, I wouldn’t say it is a walk in the park....


How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce in 20 Minutes

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce in 20 Minutes

Do you know how to make homemade marinara sauce in 20 minutes? It is pretty easy but it does involve mincing garlic.....



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First 20 Comments: [ see all 22 ]

I use Scalfani Marinara Sauce. It’s a bit pricy but the only ingredients are tomatoes, basil, garlic and salt. Whatever sugar is in it comes naturally from the tomatoes.

on April 21, 2019

I suggest you try Rao's. It is low in sugar and has an great taste. Yes, it is a tad pricey however,it's well worth the cost.

on April 21, 2019

I agree with Wyn! Rao's is great!

on April 21, 2019

Happy Easter Snack Girl, I was really interested in this article . When I make my own red sauce I usually put in anise seed which gives it the sweet taste instead of sugar. But when I am buying it for a quick meal I go to ...Classico, now I compared it to newmans and its lower in just about everything. Try it!!!!

on April 21, 2019

P.S. Sorry I forgot to tell you I use the Traditional Pizza Sauce, that's the one I compared it to

on April 21, 2019

I have been buying the Muir Glen pasta sauce which I get on Vitacost online ($3.99 for 26 oz bottle). It is organic and comes in 7 different "flavors". Their regular one has 4 gms of sugar and you can recognize all the ingredients. I also have found organic, non-GMO, no preservatives, etc. canned CORN on Vitacost. I LOVE Vitacost - many many organic product that I don't have in my stores and free, FAST shipping over $49.

on April 21, 2019

I recently saw the low sugar version of Prego Traditional Sauce on the shelf at the store. I compared it to the Prego Marinara, which is the one I usually buy, and the amount of sugar was EXACTLY the same between the two. I make my own sauce when making lasagna, but my grandmother's recipe (she was born in Italy) does include sugar.

on April 21, 2019

Dont be so lazy make your own you know whats IN it its reasonbly quick and not too expensive abd better fot you

on April 21, 2019

Happy Easter everyone! There definitely is sugar in tomatoes. There are a fruit after all. Some of the carbs do come from fiber though so the amount of sugar is negligible. There are a lot of good sauces on the market and I would surely go for those with no added sugar. I liked the idea of adding anise seed from Cindy G.

on April 21, 2019

I like this tomato sauce subject. Sure making marinara is simple, fun and a wonderful aromatic but a jar of it is handy for those times.... the Vitacost tip about my fav MuirGlen brand [didn't know MG made tomato sauce] is so helpful, thank you Karen M Johnson! Thank you Cindy for anise seed tip, oh I use fennel powder as well, same flavor! My other fav jarred sauce is Little Italy Bronx Arthur Avenue marinara, for its ingredients. Since using these are occasional I shoot for taste and ingredients that are organic, in my kitchen and tasty!

on April 21, 2019

My favorite is Classico Roasted Tomato & Garlic. No added weird stuff. Great flavor. Middle-of-the-road for carbs, sodium, etc. It's the right size for my favorite Instant Pot spaghetti recipe. Bonus: I can re-use the jar for water bath canning.

on April 21, 2019

I agree that Muir Glen is the tastiest for low sugar and sodium. I’ve been using it for about twenty years. Used to be in cans! Homemade has the same sugar content as it’s from the tomato. I add a can of tomato paste with no sodium. The little can is enough to thicken it and add taste.

on April 21, 2019

I buy Simply Natural Organic it’s at Costco 3 huge bottles in a package for $12 in Canada. It’s one of the only sauces that are organic and free of preserves like citric acid, msg, etc.

on April 21, 2019

Rao’s all the way! Great taste and much lower in sugar than other brands.

on April 22, 2019

I like Newman's and it goes to charity as well.

on April 22, 2019

Make your own.
Here's my recipe.
Canned whole or crushed San Marzanos. (YES, these are more expensive, trust me its worth it)
1 whole bulb of garlic chopped
1 can tomato paste.
! large yellow onion - chopped
Oregano, Basil, garlic powder,- 3 tablespoons of each
1 parmesan rind
1 tsp olive oil.
heat pot and saute the onion and garlic, add seasonings, then add tomato paste, then added the canned tomatoes.
cook on low for at least 6 hrs stiring every 15 - 20 mins.
then use a blender to make it a smooth sauce, if you like chunky sauce then leave as is. remove cheese rind before blending
Much healthier and you know exactly whats in it.
Zero points.

on April 22, 2019

I agree with those who said make your own. It's easy and you know exactly what's in it. I add no oil and no sugar so my sauce is 0 freestyle points - it is nothing but vegetables and seasonings.

on April 22, 2019

Thank you Jeanne, it sounds delicious!

on April 22, 2019

The homemade sounds good but what size can for the tomatoes and small or large can of tomato paste?

on April 22, 2019

Prego Marinara (it has no sugar in the ingredients) for my budget option or Rao's, which is $$$ but I get it at Costco.

on April 23, 2019

See all 22 Comments


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