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Ravioli 101: Is It Healthy Pasta?
Nutrition

Ravioli 101: Is It Healthy Pasta?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 25, 2023
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6 min

Ravioli is a popular Italian pasta dish with circular or square pockets and cheese fillings. This article explores whether the popular classic dish is a healthy choice and can help you lose weight or stay in shape.

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Ravioli is a delicious Italian dish consisting of small pockets of pasta filled with a variety of cheeses, meats, and vegetables, often served with tomato sauce. It is made from durum wheat flour, an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, essential vitamins, and minerals.

Eating ravioli can quickly put you on the high side of your daily calorie allowance, as it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Although you can order ravioli at Italian restaurants, you can also make it at home. 

Ravioli is irresistibly delicious, but is it healthy? How many calories are in ravioli? Read on for a nutritional analysis of the stuffed pasta delicacy and whether it fits into a healthy diet.

What Is Ravioli?

Ravioli is a dish made from thin layers of pasta dough with fillings such as meat, vegetables, and cheese. The pasta sheet is made of flour egg dough rolled out and flattened into thin sheets that make the pasta pockets.

The dish is a popular Italian cuisine and is often served with tomato sauce or cream sauce. It is often served as a side dish or main meal. Ravioli comes in square or rectangular shapes and looks like little pasta pockets where the filling is added.

Is Ravioli Healthy?

Ravioli is a healthy type of pasta dish because it provides nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. However, the type of ravioli and the stuffing can also determine how many calories the dish has.

Ravioli is healthy when you stuff it with vegetables and lean protein sources. But with some stuffing, such as red meat with cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese combined with sauces such as butter, tomato, cheese, or meat sauce, the calories add up fast.

Canned ravioli is often high in fat, calories, and sodium and is unsuitable if you try to eat fewer calories and lose weight. Make healthy ravioli at home with healthy stuffing such as mushrooms, butternut squash, or vegetables.

3 Health Benefits of Ravioli

#1 Beneficial for muscle growth and repair

Ravioli stuffed with beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein that the body requires for muscle regeneration. Protein provides essential amino acids that are vital for muscle growth and repair

Healthy muscle mass helps with weight loss because muscles burn calories at rest and increase the body’s metabolism. Protein is also essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails and helps the body make essential enzymes and hormones needed for bodily functions.

Ravioli is also a good source of vitamin B6, which is essential in energy production.

#2 Keeps the digestive system healthy

Ravioli is made from durum wheat flour, which contains a good amount of dietary fiber essential for digestive health. Fiber lowers the risk of constipation and helps you have regular bowel movements.

Regular consumption of dietary fiber is seen to be protective against colon cancer because it reduces the time the stool stays in the gut and reduces the body’s integration with toxins that can trigger cancer.

Moreover, it is often served with tomato sauce made from tomatoes which contain a powerful antioxidant known as lycopene that reduces cancer risk.

#3 Maintains healthy bones and teeth

Ravioli is healthy because it contains a variety of cheese fillings with an impressive calcium content. Calcium is a vital nutrient for the development of strong bones and teeth.

You can eat ravioli with a smile because it is delicious and good for your teeth. Plus, a diet consisting of foods rich in calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

3 Downsides of Ravioli

#1 Has too many calories

Ravioli can be healthy, but often, the cheese ravioli fillings contain too many calories that may lead to weight gain. Eating foods with many calories that may surpass the day’s allotted calories can make it difficult to lose weight since you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight.

#2 Unsuitable for heart health

Cheese ravioli is high in sodium and contains excess fat. Eating excess sodium in the diet interferes with the electrolyte balance and can cause bloating and high blood pressure. Ravioli with meat fillings are loaded with calories, saturated fat, and high cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Fat also increases inflammation which raises the risk of health issues.

#3 Contains too much sugar

Cheese ravioli is high in sugar. When you consume too much sugar, the body stores the excess in the body in the form of fat, which can lead to weight gain.

Consuming too much sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes. Sugar also increases inflammation in the body, which is a precursor to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Nutrition Facts of Ravioli

The table below breaks down the nutritional facts of canned cheese ravioli.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)77
Net Carbs (g)12.3
Fiber (g)1.3
Sugar (g)3.72
Fats (Total)1.45
Protein (g)2.48
Cholesterol (mg)3

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173328/nutrients 

Low in calories

Cheese ravioli is low in calories. It contains only 77kcal per 100g serving. However, the type of fillings and your portion size may also dictate how many calories you consume.

Low in fats

Cheese ravioli on its own without meat sauce or filling is low in fats. It contains only 1.45g per 100g serving.

High in carbs and sugars

Ravioli is rich in carbohydrates and sugars. A 100g serving of cheese ravioli contains 12.3g of carbs and 3.72g of sugars. Eating lots of carbs makes it harder for the body to burn fat.

Ravioli vs. Tortellini

 RavioliTortellini
OriginItalianItalian
ShapeSquare-shaped stuffed pastaRing-shaped stuffed pasta
FillingDoes not necessarily have a meat filling but often includes meat, cheese, seafood, and vegetablesTypically has a meat filling
ServingTraditionally served in a rich meat broth with tomato sauce, butter, or cheeseTraditionally served in capon broth
Calories per 100g77kcal208kcal
Protein per 100g2.48g7.2g
Total fats per 100g1.45g3.6g
Net carbs per 100g12.3g35.2g
Sodium per 100g306mg312mg
Cholesterol per 100g3mg8mg

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/455855/nutrients

Healthy Ravioli Recipe

Ravioli makes a great base for marinated artichokes and a creamy lemon sauce.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 (14oz) jar artichoke, drained, reserving 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 (8.8oz) pack spinach and ricotta ravioli
  • Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the artichoke oil. Add the garlic and leek, then fry for 5 minutes over medium heat or until the leek softens.
  2. Add the artichokes, cream cheese, basil, and lemon zest and stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain, then toss with the artichokes and cream cheese in the pan.
  4. Garnish with grated parmesan, if desired.

For more delicious and healthy recipes, we recommend checking out Keto Cycle, an app designed to help you get started on the keto diet. It contains personalized and easy-to-use programs and over 10,000 healthy keto recipes to help you stick with the diet.

FAQs

Is ravioli fattening?

Ravioli may cause weight gain if the filling has many calories and is high in fat and sugar. But it can be healthy if prepared in the right way with veggies and lean protein sources. Choose homemade ravioli made with healthy fresh ingredients over canned ravioli, which has more calories and is often high in sodium and fats.

Is ravioli good or bad for weight loss?

Eating ravioli regularly is not good for weight loss because the dish contains many calories that can make it hard to lose weight. You can eat ravioli in moderation and use healthy fillings such as veggies and lean protein sources to lower the calorie intake.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Ravioli is a popular Italian treat made with various cheese fillings. Every serving of ravioli provides the body with essential nutrients such as complex carbs, high-quality protein, and fats. It also contains minerals such as calcium, essential for strong bones and teeth.

The pasta is made from durum wheat flour, which contains essential nutrients and is lower in calories than refined flour.

The downside of cheese ravioli is that it may contain excess fat, sodium, and saturated fat, depending on the type of filling you choose. If you wish to lose weight, consume ravioli in moderation and choose healthy fillings such as vegetables to increase your intake of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for weight loss. Also, consider making ravioli at home to control the type of ingredients to use.

Conclusion

Ravioli is a diverse type of pasta that you can use with any type of fillings of your choice. Cheese ravioli is a popular dish rich in macronutrients and essential vitamins such as vitamin B and minerals such as calcium. It is often served with a rich sauce such as crème or tomato sauce.

Most people believe ravioli is unhealthy because it is high in fat, calories, sodium, and sugar. But it depends on the type of filling and whether it is canned or homemade ravioli.

Ravioli can be ridiculously healthy if you eat it with vegetable fillings such as butternut squash and use healthy oil such as canola or olive oil.

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 by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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