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Is Gnocchi Healthy? Nutrition, Calories, Side Effects
Nutrition

Is Gnocchi Healthy? Nutrition, Calories, Side Effects

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 5
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6 min

Gnocchi, also called potato pasta, is a popular recipe in Italy and is a type of dumpling made from potatoes. Read on to learn more about this Italian dish.

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An Italian dish called gnocchi is a type of dumpling. They are made from little lumps of dough that are often made from a mixture of wheat flour, egg, salt, and potato.

Most frequently, the gnocchi dough is flattened out before being divided into portions no bigger than a wine cork. The dumplings can be chopped into little lumps or ridged with a rough item, like a fork or cheese grater.

It is often served as a side dish in a simple butter sauce or as a main meal with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Is Gnocchi Healthy?

As gnocchi has a high level of carbohydrates in it, it is not healthy. Additionally, it is very low in protein and other essential nutrients.

Gnocchi also has a high level of sodium in it. There is nearly 517mg of sodium present in 100g of gnocchi. A high level of sodium is going to increase your blood pressure, and high blood pressure is not good for the health of your heart.

Even though it is made from a natural ingredient like potato, a lot of cheese and tomato sauce are added while preparing gnocchi. It shouldn’t be consumed daily as tomato sauce is very unhealthy and loaded with preservatives, sugar, and sodium.

Additionally, because wheat and eggs are the primary ingredients, it is not a good alternative for those seeking gluten-free or vegan options. Cauliflower gnocchi is a healthier choice as it is gluten-free and vegan. It has fewer calories and fat content than traditional gnocchi.

Is Gnocchi Healthier Than Pasta?

Pasta is a general term that refers to a wide variety of foods, including spaghetti, penne, pierogies, and gnocchi. Although each form of pasta has a unique shape, most people refer to the traditional Italian pasta that is made from a mixture of wheat flour, water, and eggs.

Whole wheat flour makes regular pasta high in carbohydrates and low in protein.

Pasta and gnocchi are similar, although gnocchi is prepared slightly differently. Gnocchi is quite heavy in carbohydrates but low in protein, much like normal pasta.

However, traditional pasta dishes may have less of an impact on blood sugar levels, even though both foods are high in carbohydrates. It doesn’t appear to increase blood sugar levels after a meal as much as meals based on potatoes.

Regular pasta has varying amounts of carbohydrates depending on the kind and shape, such as spaghetti or elbow noodles; however, a typical 100g portion of dry pasta contains about 74.7g of carbohydrates, and only 3.2g is from fiber. 

Pasta is a simple carbohydrate because of its high carbohydrate and low fiber content. According to the USDA, the same serving of gnocchi has about 33.3g of carbohydrates, but, like pasta, hardly any of them (2.5g) is from fiber.

Potato gnocchi appears to have fewer carbohydrates than pasta at first glance, but it weighs more because it is denser. Your dish of gnocchi will be smaller if you compare equal portions of normal pasta and gnocchi side by side.

Both pasta and gnocchi are deficient in other nutrients, high in carbohydrates, and low in fiber.

Pasta has 371 calories per 100g serving, 13g of protein, 6mg of sodium, and traces of phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Although your quantity of gnocchi will probably be larger than your share of pasta, gnocchi has 150 calories per 100g serving, 3.3g of protein, and essentially no other vitamins or minerals apart from 571mg of sodium.

3 Side Effects of Gnocchi

#1 Not gluten-free

While potatoes are the main component of gnocchi, wheat is frequently added as a binder; therefore, classic gnocchi is surely not gluten-free. A protein called gluten can have major negative effects on some people.

Some individuals have distinct reactions to gluten, where the body interprets it as a toxin, and the immune system overreacts by attacking it. Inflammation happens when a gluten-sensitive person continues to eat it without realizing it. 

#2 Contains food allergens

Some people may be allergic to potato gnocchi as it contains wheat and eggs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a law in 2004 which identifies eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, and soybeans as major food allergens.

When the body’s immune system responds to certain dietary proteins, food allergies can develop. Food allergy symptoms can range in intensity from minor ones like hives and lip swelling to severe ones like anaphylaxis, which can cause serious breathing issues and shock.

#3 Not good for your heart

Gnocchi has a very high amount of sodium (571 mg) in just a 100 g serving. A small amount of sodium is required by our body to function. However, eating a lot of sodium can increase blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Gnocchi Nutritional Facts

Nutritional table (per 100g) 

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)150
Sodium (mg)517
Net Carbs (g)33.3
Fiber (g)2.5
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)0
Protein (g)3.33
Cholesterol (mg)0

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2083591/nutrients  

Low in calories and fats

A 100g serving of gnocchi contains only 150 calories and 0g of fat. It has 0g of saturated fat and 0g of trans fat in its fat content.

Low in protein

With 3.3g of protein per 100g serving, gnocchi is a very low-protein food.

High in carbohydrates

Gnocchi is high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. A 100g serving contains only 33.3g of net carbs and 2.5g of fiber.

High in sodium

Gnocchi has a high amount of sodium in it. There is approximately 517mg of sodium per 100g serving. A diet with less sodium helps to regulate high blood pressure and water retention because salt makes the body retain water.

Pay particular attention to the sodium levels when reading the nutrition facts label. It is advised to keep your daily sodium intake to no more than 2300mg.

May contain additives

Dehydrated potato flake is one of the ingredients present in packaged gnocchi. Citric acid, emulsifiers, SAPP, sodium bisulfite, and other additives are used in the potato dehydration process.

Preservatives like potassium sorbate are used to keep gnocchi fresh for a longer time and extend their shelf life. Traditional gnocchi can be made at home without any preservatives and additives.

FAQs

Is gnocchi good or bad for you?

Gnocchi is not good for your health as it is loaded with carbohydrates and sodium. It does not have any nutritional benefits; however, you can still eat gnocchi in moderation. Pair it with healthy foods and salads to make it nutrient-dense.

Try sweet potato gnocchi as it is full of nutrients and good for your health.

Is gnocchi good for weight loss?

Gnocchi has fewer calories and carbohydrates when compared to regular pasta. But, as it is a lot smaller and denser, you will end up eating bigger portions of it than eating regular pasta.

Consuming gnocchi occasionally is fine, but it cannot help you lose weight because of its high carbohydrate content. Cauliflower gnocchi is a good alternative to traditional gnocchi because it has fewer calories and less fat in it.

Is gnocchi fattening?

Gnocchi is fattening as it is often served with ricotta cheese, sausages, beef sauce, and Alfredo sauce. You can make gnocchi healthy by making it with chicken stock and topping it with a ton of steamed vegetables.

Replace the white flour in your homemade gnocchi with wheat or semolina. Additionally, always consume carbohydrates in moderation.

A Word From a Nutritionist

When it comes to gnocchi and pasta, neither of them is healthy. Regular pasta has more protein and fewer nutrients, whereas gnocchi has fewer calories and carbs.

Although store-bought gnocchi is high in sodium, you can still control the level of sodium by making it at home. Additionally, almond flour, chickpea flour, and other varieties of flour can be added to make it gluten-free.

This variety of pasta cannot be consumed on a keto diet as it is very high in carbohydrates. To stay in ketosis, limit your net carb consumption to 20–30g per day.

As eggs are the main ingredient in a traditional gnocchi recipe, cauliflower gnocchi is a recommended substitute for vegans. Cauliflower gnocchi is also gluten-free.

When compared to potato gnocchi, sweet potato gnocchi is another healthier choice as sweet potato is high in nutrients and good for your brain function and digestive system. However, it can also be unhealthy if combined with unhealthy ingredients like refined flour, excessive sodium, and additives.

Conclusion

To live a healthy lifestyle, one must consume nutrient-rich foods, limit calorie intake, and consume as many whole foods as possible.Gnocchi shouldn’t be a staple food in your diet because it lacks nutrition and is processed. It can, however, occasionally be consumed. You can still make gnocchi healthy by making it from cauliflower or sweet potatoes.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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