Marinara Sauce – A Perfect Dip for a Healthy You

Zoomi Singh

July 5, 2022

Marinara is a kind of tomato sauce made with garlic, onion, basil, and dried oregano and is extremely popular in Italian cuisine. It is also called ❝Alla Marina ❞ . It continues to rule as a dip in several Italian dishes. The property which makes it unique is its natural ingredients and less cooking time. With times, marinara is available in wide varieties. Using white wine in making this sauce has become quite common in western culture. Usually, basil and even parsley garnish is added to this sauce for a natural fresh flavour. 

The marinara sauce has more nutritional value than any other pasta sauce. It offers a load of health benefits because of its nutrient-rich profile. It promotes heart health, improves digestive health, keeps bones strong, protects Skin from UV rays and revitalises hair growth, among other health benefits.

Marinara’s rich taste and versatile nature are important reasons for it being a sauce everyone loves. The serving temperature of marinara is hot as it is paired mostly with pizza, lasagna, and meatballs which are served hot. It has a runny texture with a slightly sweet taste. American dishes like chicken parmesan, spaghetti, and Menudo contain marinara sauce too. One can consume it with meat and other vegetables also.

Nutritional Benefits of Marinara Sauce

As per USDA hundred grams of marinara sauce holds the following nutritional values:

  • Energy: 51 kcal
  • Protein: 1.41 g
  • Fibre:1.8 g
  • Fat: 148 g
  • Carbohydrate: 8.06g
  • Sugar: 5.5 g

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Calcium: 27 mg
  • Sodium: 30 mg
  • Phosphorus: 34 mg
  • Potassium: 319 mg
  • Iron: 0.78 mg
  • Vitamin K: 13.9 µg
  • Vitamin B3: 3.92 µg

The HealthifyMe Note

Marinara sauce holds a reasonably decent nutritional profile due to its nutrient-rich ingredients. Since it does not contain high calories and carbohydrates, you can use it as a dip with your meals. However, you should only consume it in moderation because it contains high fat. Besides, it is a good source of vitamin B3 and vitamin K can offer a few health benefits.

Health Benefits of Marinara Sauce

Antioxidant Properties

The main ingredient of marinara sauce is lycopene, a potent antioxidant that helps in protecting cells from damage. Lycopene is responsible for the red colour in vegetables like tomatoes. A study shows that lycopene has chemopreventive properties. It protects against cancer by preventing oxidative damage, especially in prostate cancer. It also can potentially prevent the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells.

Improves Bone Health

Marinara sauce is rich in potassium with 216 mg per 100 grams portion. Potassium helps in the formation of strong bones and muscle damage. It also helps in synthesising proteins and metabolising carbohydrates. Muscle damage, fatigue, constipation, feeling of skipped heartbeat or palpitations, and tingling or numbness are some of the main symptoms of potassium deficiency. Potassium’s effect on the kidney and heart is part of extensive research. As per a study, it regulates electrolyte balance and blood pressure by affecting cell voltage. 

Rich Source of Vitamin K

The marinara sauce has 13.9 µg of vitamin K per 100 grams. In addition, vitamin K helps make various proteins needed for blood clotting and building blocks. It also benefits cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and ulcer colitis. 

As per a study, vitamin K, mostly known for its coagulation function, is needed to prevent osteoporosis, bone loss and vascular calcification. Although deficiency of vitamin k is not fatal, ignoring it may lead to some age-related problems.

High in Niacin

Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is required for regular organ function. It is not only used in converting food into energy but is also helpful in maintaining the digestive system and skin healthy. In addition, it helps in lowering cholesterol, treating arthritis, and in brain functions.

According to the study, niacin is in drugs that help treat hypercholesterolemia and statin intolerance. So marinara sauce, a good source of niacin, may be helpful in these aspects of the human body.

Improves Skin Health

We are ready to spend thousands on our skin regarding smooth and wrinkle-free skin. However, simply incorporating tomatoes can be a solution to glowing skin. Therefore, the marinara sauce with its main ingredient, tomato, which contains lycopene, helps maintain skin health. Lycopene is known to have an antioxidant effect on the skin, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles and promotes skin health. Moreover, a study states that lycopene protects against acute and potential long-term effects of photodamage.

Prevents Post Menopausal Symptoms

Lycopene is known to protect against post-menopausal symptoms. In addition, according to a study consuming at least seven servings of lycopene-based products is helpful for post-menopausal women to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Another study demonstrated that lycopene confers a protective effect against post-menopausal syndromes. Therefore, marinara helps women in this stage.

Heart Friendly

As per USDA, marinara only has 2µg of cholesterol which heart patients can take without causing much harm. Also, the presence of lycopene may reduce the risk of heart diseases. The study also says myocardial infarction and wall thickness get reduced in people with a higher adipose concentration in lycopene.

Easy Recipe to Make Marinara Sauce at Home

  • Cooking time: 30 mins
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Serving: 4 cups


  • Olive oil/ Butter: 3 tbsp
  • Tomato:1
  • Garlic: ½ clove
  • Oregano: ½ tsp
  • Black pepper: ½ tsp
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Onion: ½ 
  • Italian Basil: 1 tbsp

If you don’t have basil, you can add parsley for flavour.


  • Place a nonstick pan and add three tbsp of olive oil. Add chopped onions and saute until it turns pinkish soft. 
  • Then add garlic and saute till the raw smell of garlic has gone.
  • Add chopped or crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Cook it on low flame for about 10 mins with a covered lid.
  • Add freshly chopped parsley or basil and turn off the gas.
  • Your delicious marinara sauce is ready.

Best Paired with Dishes

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Broccoli, carrots and mushrooms
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Lasagna
  • Noodles
  • Honey chilli potato
  • Meatballs in marinara
  • Menudo
  • Ratatouille
  • Minestrone

Recipes Using Marinara Sauce

Lazy Lasagna

  • Serves: 2
  • Preparation time: 30 min


  • Marinara sauce: 1 cup
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese: ¾ cup
  • Cottage cheese: ½ cup
  • Wide egg noodles: 1- ½ cup
  • Grated parmesan cheese: 2 tbsp
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Preparation Method

  • Warm the marinara sauce and stir in the mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese. After mixing properly, put noodles in the sauce.
  • Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Bake it for about 20 minutes at 375° until it turns bubbly. Top with parsley if desired.

Nutritive Value

  • Carbohydrates: 37 g
  • Calories: 399 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Energy: 140 kcal
  • Cholesterol: 68 mg
  • Sodium: 1120 mg

Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells

  • Serves: 12
  • Preparation time: 25 min
  • Cooking time: 30 min
  • Total time: 55 min


  • Jumbo Pasta Shells: 350 g
  • Marinara sauce: 700 g
  • Cream cheese: 250 g
  • Roasted alfredo sauce: 1 cup
  • Salt: As per taste
  • Pepper: As per taste
  • Chilli flakes: As per taste
  • Shredded Italian cheese blend: 2 cups
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: ½ cup
  • Chopped spinach: 300 g
  • Finely chopped artichoke hearts: ½ cup
  • Roasted red pepper: ¼ cup
  • Additional parmesan cheese

Preparation Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Boil the pasta shells according to packaging instructions. Drain the water.
  • Spread one cup of sauce into a baking dish. 
  • Take a large bowl and beat cream, alfredo sauce and the seasonings until blended. You can use an electric blender or whisk.
  • Add the cheese and vegetables to the mix. Put the mixture into the pasta shells and arrange them in the baking dish.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the top. Bake it covered for about 20 minutes and uncovered for 10-15 minutes. You can add parmesan cheese on the top and bake till the cheese melts.

Nutritive value

The nutritional value of three stuffed pasta shells is:

  • Carbohydrates: 33 g
  • Calories: 389 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Cholesterol: 70 mg
  • Sodium: 707 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

Marinara sauce is a dipping sauce traditionally. Even though marinara sauce has fewer components, you can substitute it with some pasta and pizza sauces. It is a thinner and simpler sauce that cooks more quickly. Depending on the kind of tomatoes used, they may be suitable for different dishes.

Storage and Safety

Since most sauces don’t have preservatives, it becomes crucial to store or refrigerate the sauce properly. Avoid spoilage or wastage of any sauce; this is also important to preserve food products’ quality and nutritional properties. Food is mainly affected by the action of bacteria, which are very active at room temperature.

The best way to store marina sauces is by removing them from their original packaging. You can use airtight jars or plastic containers to keep it at room temperature, but the best is to refrigerate it for more prolonged use.

You can open a jar of marinara sauce for three to five days under refrigerated conditions. While refrigerating, you must take care that it should be poured first into an airtight jar so that its original taste does not fade. Storing sauce in an open container can lead to odours of other food in the fridge getting mixed with marinara and can change the sauce’s flavour.

You can also use a heavy-top zip-top bag to store marinara sauce. A small container has less air exposure and fewer chances of getting spoiled. Please discard the sauce immediately if it has signs of mould formation, odour, or bad taste. If you want to extend the shelf life of any pasta or marinara, freeze it in covered airtight containers or heavy zipped freezer bags at a temperature of about 40 ℉ Or more. Do not put hot sauce directly into the container. First, let it cool for some time, and then put the sauce in the airtight bag and refrigerate to balance the temperature.

As tomato is the main ingredient of marinara sauce, it can lead to rare allergies accompanied by symptoms like wheezing, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or even sometimes abdominal cramps. In addition, rashes on the skin appear in allergies related to tomatoes.  

A study reports allergic reactions to tomatoes. These include urticaria/angioedema, dermatitis, oral allergy syndrome, rhinitis, and abdominal pain. This study aimed to report two patients with significant immediate hypersensitivity reactions to tomato and characterise the responsible allergen. As the marinara sauce is rich in tomatoes, patients shouldn’t include much of this in their diet before consulting with their doctor or registered dietician.

The Adverse Effects of Marinara Sauce

High in Sodium

Marinara sauce can sometimes become a problem for blood pressure patients as it is high in sodium. However, this effect depends on how much serving an individual takes, as sodium can increase the chances of osteoporosis and heart problems. So it’s not advisable to take large servings of the sauce. But, as per the study, reducing sodium intake can help people with high blood pressure. 

Sodium and its adverse effect on health require further study. It is advisable to keep sodium levels low in heart patients. The good thing about marinara is some brands have low sugar and low sodium content, and such patients can also enjoy its taste.

Medicinal Interaction

Vitamin K is in marinara sauce in a reasonable amount and has coagulation properties. Therefore, taking it with tablets is like warfarin, commonly called coumadin, which slows down the process of making clots, and can be counterproductive. Now, in one place, one is eating products rich in vitamin K, which helps in coagulation and at the same time taking tablets that slow down the process of coagulation will only lead to reverse mechanisms. A research study on the same explains the adverse medicinal interactions.

High in Potassium

If you are on a low or negligible potassium diet, consuming a potassium-rich product may become a problem and can reverse the results. So it is advisable to contact your registered dietitian or doctor before consuming. 


Marinara sauce is an Italian sauce made with tomato, herbs, garlic, and onion, readily available in every kitchen. It is tasty and easy to prepare, which is why it is popular. Its runny texture makes it perfect for serving as a topping for pasta and pizza. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, which are good for health. The property of marinara sauce is rich in lycopene which highlights it even more for patients with cancer.

Lycopene is a pigment that gives a red colour to fruits and vegetables. Lycopene enhances the quality of the skin and is an aid in diabetes etc. However, along with its positives, it has some potential adverse effects. People allergic to tomatoes can have problems like coughing, sneezing, or skin rashes. 

Apart from that, it is not good or advisable to be consumed by people on a low sodium or potassium diet. Similarly, if you are taking tablets that are supposed to interact with vitamin K like warfarin, you must avoid marinara. Marinara can be homemade and store-bought with certain new varieties, making it even more diversified.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is marinara sauce good for you?

A. Marinara sauce has its main ingredient, tomatoes which makes it good for our health as tomato is a vegetable with a rich source of vitamin C. It helps build immunity and is also beneficial for brain and heart health.

Q. Is it healthy to eat marinara sauce every day?

A. It depends on quantity. Excess to anything is harmful. The marinara sauce also has a high sodium content, which can be a problem for people who suffer from high blood pressure.

Q. Which is healthier, spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce?

A. Marinara sauce has more vitamins and minerals and is even healthier. Both contain tomatoes. However, both have different textures. Spaghetti is a thicker sauce and can contain meat. Marinara is runny, so it’s simpler. 

Q. What Is special about marinara sauce?

A. Its main ingredient is tomatoes. It is a dipping sauce which can be combined with pasta and pizza. Even its quick cooking time is also a reason for its popularity. Moreover, one can make it entirely with simple kitchen ingredients, which makes this special.

Q. Does marinara sauce have a lot of sugar?

A.Yes, tomatoes are naturally sweet and have around 4 grams of sugar per serving. Also, some more sugar is added to the recipe as sugar cuts the acidic effect of tomato, which in turn increases its sugar quantity.

Q. How many calories are in a 1/4 cup of marinara sauce?

A. There are 23 calories in a ¼ cup serving of marinara sauce. Additionally, it has the goodness of minerals and vitamins like phosphorus, potassium, and calcium, which help in strengthening muscles and bones, and vitamins which are richer than any other sauce.

About the Author

Zoomi, holds Masters degree in Nutritional Sciences from University of Allahabad, qualified CBSE-UGC-NET in Home Science and pursuing PhD in Nutritional Sciences, University of Allahabad, Prayagraj. A Strong research professional focused in Nutritional Sciences where she have more than 8 yrs of work experience in the field of Nutrition and Research, had work experience as a Dietician at Super-specialty hospitals. Skilled in Weight Management, Hypertension, Diabetes and Micronutrient related deficiencies. Additionally, she is well-versed in biostatistics and proficient in statistical tools such as SPSS and STATA. She is endowed with strong writing abilities and has authored her own book, more than six research papers, and six book chapters. Holder of various awards like Excellent Dietician, 2019 and 2020 by Saksham Society, Jaipur, Rajasthan, Academic Excellence at National Conference by Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University, Jaipur (Rajasthan), India and Research Achievement Award-2020 for Research & Innovation by ACAIRS Global Network Pvt. Ltd. Life Member of Nutrition Society of India, NIN, Hyderabad and participated and presented papers in four International and six National conferences. Zoomi believes the right habits play the most crucial role in one’s health and wellness journey. The key to fit body is a fit mind and mental state.

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