How bad is pizza for you?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How bad is pizza for you?” will discuss some health tips to make pizza a healthy choice.

How bad is pizza for you?

Pizza is bad for you because pizzas are heavy in calories, fat, and salt, notably frozen and fast-food pizzas. Colors, added sugar, and preservatives may be found in more processed pizza types and all of these unhealthy ingredients. Eating pizza frequently may slow down your metabolism, you may become sluggish, and may also increase the risk of heart diseases.

The healthiness of a pizza depends, however, on its ingredients. A pizza, as one of the most typical items of Italian cuisine, was proven to be favorable against certain types of gastrointestinal cancers. In a research study, an inverse association was found between regular pizza consumption (>1 portion of pizza per week) and the risk of cancers of the digestive tract. This was associated with the health benefits of tomato and olive oil consumption (1).

Is Pizza a Healthful Choice or Not?

Even though certain pizzas are unhealthy, others that are less processed might be good for you.

Ingredients That Aren’t Good for You

Pizzas that have been processed include more harmful components than those that have been created from scratch, as is true of all meals. Before reaching the consumer, ready-made meals already undergo some form of processing to ensure food safety or hygiene or to enhance palatability, texture or flavor. Processing may involve the addition of other foods or ingredients, as well as heating, cooling or pressure-cooking. Toxic substances such as preservatives, colorings, and fats may be found in frozen or fast-food pizzas (2).

However, refined wheat flour is used in the making of all pizzas, regardless of how they are cooked. There are fewer calories in this kind of flour since it has a lower fiber content. Weight gain is connected to the use of refined grain products like pizza and other ready-made meals. Major sources of refined carbohydrates in Italy, mainly bread and pasta, were directly associated with the risk of colorectal cancer (3). 

In a study of 1,352 adults, researchers discovered that those who ate more than 70 grams of ready-made items like pizza per day were more likely to develop excess abdominal fat. It is possible to find varieties that have a high calorie, carbohydrate, sodium, and sugar content. The distinction from raw or unprocessed foods or meals prepared at home is that the consumer cannot control the nutritional quality of the basic ingredients or the amount of added sugars or fats used in these dishes (2). 

Typical pizza toppings include a lot of cheese, salty meats, onions, and other high-calorie ingredients. In addition, some pizzas include extra sugar in the dough, certain toppings, and some sauces.

At 21 grams (4 teaspoons), the sugar content in one serving (1/4 pizza) of Red Baron Barbecue Chicken pizza is shockingly high. Chronic diseases including obesity and heart disease have been linked to a diet high in refined foods with added sugars. In addition, if you go for a loaded crust or deep-dish pizza, the carb and calorie content of your slice will rise.

However, even if you’re just having a snack, eating fast food or frozen pizza may lead to weight gain and may raise your chance of developing chronic health disorders if you consume them often. The consumption of fast foods or meals outside the home has consistently been linked to the consumption of more energy and saturated fat and fewer fruits and vegetables (2).

Some pizza recipes may be healthy

One component of pre-packaged dishes that might lead to weight gain is the use of unhealthy nutrients such as hydrogenated oils, saturated fat, salt, refined starchy foods and food additives to preserve flavor or enhance the taste and appearance (2).

A healthier alternative to takeout pizza is one cooked with fresh, entire ingredients rather than prepackaged mixes. Despite its basic ingredients, traditional pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world. Pizza does not include only variable amounts of carbohydrates (50%), but also tomato sauce (20%), mozzarella cheese (20%) and olive oil (4%), plus additional toppings in a proportion of cases. Cooked tomatoes (and especially tomato sauce) are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid that has been shown inversely related to cancers of the prostate and of the digestive tract in Italy (3).

It’s possible to make a nutritious pizza at home with only these few ingredients. If you’re preparing your pizza, you may boost the nutritional value by adding veggies or lean protein sources like grilled chicken. Whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, as well as healthy toppings like fresh vegetables or herbs, are becoming more common in the pizza industry. The highest consumption level of whole-grain foods were inversely related to various types of cancer, such as rectum, liver, pancreas and prostate. In contrast, refined grain intake was associated with an increased risk of stomach, colorectal, breast, and thyroid cancers in studies conducted in Mediterranean populations. Glycaemic index is an indicator of the rate of adsorption of carbohydrates, and hence measures of insulin demand, and have been suggested to be relevant factors in gastric, colorectal, breast, female genital tract and prostatic carcinogenesis (1). 

Tips for a Long and Healthy Life

It’s important to indulge in your favorite foods now and then as part of a healthy diet. There is no harm in the odd frozen, fast-food, or pizzeria-style pizza treat, but the recommendation is to restrict your intake to a few times a month at most. But if you are a pizza fan and want to eat it more often, there are methods to make it a lot healthier.

Make your own pizza

Pizzas purchased from a fast-food restaurant or frozen at home have no control over what ingredients are used. When you make your food, you have complete control over what goes into and out of it. You may add fiber to your diet by making your pie crust using whole-grain or gluten-free flours. Cauliflower or nut flour may also be used to produce a grain-free crust.

With high-quality cheese and healthy toppings like sundried tomatoes, broccoli, arugula, chicken, garlic, or mushrooms on top, your pizza will be delicious and nutritious.

Choose Whole Foods over Processed Foods

When preparing your pizza or buying a pre-made pizza, look for ingredients that have been kept whole. Products with whole-food components should be the ones you choose to purchase.

Forget the pre-made pizzas that include artificial colors, high-fructose corn syrup, extra sugar, processed meats, and other additives. If you want to save money, make your pizza at home using fresh ingredients and handmade dough. Preparing and cooking meals at home may ensure greater control over the nutritional content and the overall quality of the food eaten. Fast-food consumption is a key contributor to weight gain among adults and childhood obesity. A positive association between eating out of home and weight gain has been confirmed by many research studies (2).

Practice portion control

Overeating any meal, healthy or otherwise, may lead to weight gain if you consume too much of it. When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, portion management is essential. If you’re going to indulge in sweets that are easy to overeat on, like ice cream, bread, cake, and pizza, moderation is key.

Portion management is a fantastic technique to avoid ingesting too many calories, regardless of whether you’re eating freshly prepared pizza or a pre-made slice. If you’re ordering pizza for takeaway, give yourself a piece and avoid eating from the box. For a more balanced lunch, start with a green salad that is high in fiber before moving on to your favorite piece of pizza.

Additional Suggestions for Good Health

A complete guide to a healthier nutrition is provided by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for the Americans. Pizza may be made healthier in several ways, including the following:

·         Adding cooked or fresh vegetables to homemade or takeaway pizza can increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your meal.

·         Whenever possible, stay away from processed meats 

·         Grilled chicken instead of processed meats like pepperoni and bacon is a better option for a protein source.

·         Whole-grain crusts are a great way to add fiber to your diet.

·         To keep sugar levels to a minimum, look for sauces that don’t have any added sugar.

·         Avoid foods with a high-calorie count: If you’re trying to watch your consumption of calories and carbs, go for a thin crust instead of a deep dish or packed crust.

·         Cut smaller slices: Consider portion management while cutting yourself a piece of pizza.

·         Try a variety of dishes: Use healthful crusts made from vegetables and grains like portabella mushrooms, cauliflower, and quinoa.

Other FAQs about Pizza that you may be interested in.

Can I eat pizza with the flu? 

Is cold pizza good for breakfast?

Is cold pizza OK to eat?

How to heat up pizza in the air fryer?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How bad is pizza for you?” discussed some health tips to make pizza a healthy choice.

References

  1. La Vecchia, Carlo, and Cristina Bosetti. Diet and cancer risk in Mediterranean countries: open issues. Pub health nutr, 2006, 9, 1077-1082.
  2. Alkerwi, Ala’A., Georgina E. Crichton, and James R. Hébert. Consumption of ready-made meals and increased risk of obesity: findings from the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study. Brit J Nutr, 2015, 113, 270-277.
  3. Gallus, Silvano, et al. Does pizza protect against cancer?. Int j cancer, 2003, 107, 283-284.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.