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Pasta with a plus--triple the fiber, with the calcium of milk.

The Buzz. Pasta is popular--a quick and economical, if not the most nutritious, meal. Hoping to set its pasta apart, Ronzoni boasts that its latest creation, Smart Taste pasta, is an excellent source of fiber and, in a new pasta twist, an excellent source of calcium.

The Basics. Smart Taste, available as spaghetti, thin spaghetti, elbow macaroni, penne rigate and rotini, does indeed provide six grams of fiber per two-ounce serving, uncooked. That's three times the fiber of regular pasta. The same two-ounce serving provides 300 milligrams of calcium, the amount you'd get from an eight-ounce glass of milk--an unusual nutrition attribute for pasta.

The Bonus. The fiber in Smart Taste comes from modified food starch, a common ingredient used as a thickener and fat replacer. Unlike whole-wheat pastas, which tend to be chewier and more pronounced in flavor, Smart Taste tastes virtually the same as traditional pasta. That's because the major ingredients are the same--semolina and durum wheat.

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The Bust. Semolina and durum wheat are both refined flours. You're better off getting your fiber--and phytonutrients--from unrefined whole-wheat pasta. And while getting more calcium is a good thing, we don't suggest depending on pasta to boost your bone strength. Low-fat and skim milk provide calcium plus vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption, as well as other vitamins and minerals you don't get from fortified pasta. Smart Taste is slightly more expensive than traditional pasta (though still a bargain for a meal).

The Bottom Line. As long as you're plating some pasta, you might as well get all the nutrition you can. Whole-wheat pasta is your best bet, but the texture and taste doesn't appeal to everyone. As an alternative, Ronzoni's Smart Taste can up your fiber and calcium intake while you mull making the leap to a whole-grain option.

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Title Annotation:Product Watch
Publication:Environmental Nutrition
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:303
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