HealthyPosted on 12.12.2013

Healthy Italian Takeaway – Carbonara vs. King Prawn Spaghetti

Ding ding ding  Battle of the Healthy Italian Takeaways!

Mamma mia! This week, it’s an Italian showdown. The rich and creamy Carbonara, vs. the lean King Prawn Spaghetti.

Naughty – Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is Rich with a capital R! Once the spaghetti is cooked, delicious crispy streaky bacon or pancetta is added, along with some butter. Then, beaten eggs and grated Italian cheeses (Parmesan and/or Pecorino, a salty sheep’s milk cheese, are popular) are chucked into the pan, and the chef stirs like mad. As if by magic, the butter, eggs and cheese are transformed into a silky, creamy sauce (unless you don’t stir fast enough, then you get scrambled egg. Not quite as delicious!).

Comfort food at its finest.

But sadly, this classic pasta sauce is full of ingredients with quite a bit of fat – especially saturated fats, we should keep an eye on. Most saturated fats come from animal products, and just look at the list in this recipe – bacon, eggs, butter and cheese. Butter is around 80 percent fat, and Pecorino cheese comes close behind with around 50 percent. And because all fats are packed with calories, this dish isn’t kind to your waistline, either.

So, while delicious, you need to remember that bacon and cheese are high in salt, and too much of this can raise your blood pressure.  Keep this dish for very occasionally!

Nice – King Prawn Spaghetti, with Chilli and Garlic

This dish is meat-free, which is a good way of reducing the fat (especially those nasty saturates) in your pasta dish. Seafood is generally low in fat – except when it’s a so-called ‘oily fish’ like salmon, mackerel, tuna or sardines. But don’t worry – it contains good fats that benefit your blood vessels and heart – so even oily fish are good guys.

Prawns are a good source of protein, ultra-low in fat (less than two percent) and calories. You may have heard that they’re high in cholesterol, and you might be avoiding them, particularly if your cholesterol levels are on the high side, or if this runs in your family. But remember – it’s not cholesterol heavy foods that increase your risk of heart problems, instead it’s the amount of saturated fat you eat – high intakes of saturates are linked with high levels of the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease. And prawns are really low in saturated. And if you’re cutting down the amount of saturated fat you eat, consider taking plenty of exercise helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy, too.

Generally this dish is kept nice and simple – just some pasta and prawns, with a dressing made from olive oil, chilli and garlic. Yes, olive oil is just as calorific as any other fat – so if you eat too much of it you’ll put on weight. But in moderate amounts olive oil is actually good for your heart, thanks to the UNsaturated fats it contains. Chilli has been found to have a very slight fat-burning effect, and garlic helps make your blood less ‘sticky’, reducing your risk of dangerous blood clots.

So, if the portion isn’t too huge, and the chef doesn’t use too much oil in the dressing (ask if they can go easy), this is a very good choice when you’re eating Italian.