Pizza has to be one of my absolute favorite things to eat. You just can’t beat that delicious combination of crispy base, flavourful toppings, and oozing melted cheese. It’s making me hungry just writing about it.
Perhaps the only bad thing about pizza is that nagging feeling of guilt you get afterward. You see, the common perception is that pizza is bad for you. But is that true?
Modern nutrition science has redefined what it means to eat healthily. So I decided to look into what the research has to say about pizza. And, without giving too much away, you’re going to be excited to read what I found out when I asked, is pizza bad for you?
What is healthy eating?
If you want to eat a healthy diet, you just need to follow a few simple rules. People get carried away with fad diets, but it’s actually much simpler than that. I’ll quickly look at the basic rules of healthy eating, and then we can look at how pizza fits in with them.
1. Eat a balanced diet, full of fresh, whole foods
Our bodies need a complicated mix of nutrients to work well. Countless scientific studies have proved that it’s healthy to eat a diet full of fresh, unprocessed, and varied foods.
All foods are made up of three basic substances, fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Our bodies need all of these to survive as well as a whole host of vitamins. Some foods also contain fiber which is a digestible plant material that passes through our bodies, keeping our digestive system healthy and Able to clear out carcinogens and cholesterol.
It’s important to note here that fats and sugars aren’t necessarily bad for you. Natural fats from meat and dairy products and sugars from fruit are good and healthy things to eat. But it’s a good idea to limit how much trans-fats and refined sugar you eat in highly processed foods.
2. Don’t overeat
Obesity is the cause of many major health issues, so keeping control of how much you eat is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.
As a (very) general rule, the recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2500 calories, and for women, it’s 2000 calories. If you lead an active exercise-filled life, you can eat more calories and still maintain the same weight, but if you’re not very active, the opposite is true, and you will probably need to eat fewer calories to maintain your weight
3. Avoid highly processed foods
Highly processed foods are generally low in nutrients and high in sugar, artificial ingredients, sodium, and unhealthy trans-fats.
So, that’s easy, isn’t it? To eat well, you simply need to monitor your calorie intake, eat a good mixture of fresh, nutrient-rich foods, and avoid eating too much highly processed food.
What goes into your pizza?
Here’s some headline news that you’re going to like. Pizza is full of healthy things to eat.
Pizza bases are made mainly from flour, which is a good source of fiber and carbohydrates. The tomato sauce and vegetable toppings are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Meat and seafood toppings are full of protein, and that lovely oozy mozzarella is an excellent source of calcium and protein.
How many calories in a slice of pizza?
The US Department of Agriculture, USDA, tells us that a typical slice of pizza from a fast-food chain contains 285 calories. This figure can vary significantly depending on whether you order a thin crust or deep dish, meat lovers, or margarita. But, it’s an excellent place to start and tells us that pizza is a calorie-rich food.
If you were to eat all eight slices of this typical pizza, you would get 91% of your daily calorie needs for a man and 114% for a woman. Given that most people eat three or four meals a day, it’s essential to manage our pizza consumption to ensure that we are not overeating.
Fortunately, there are things that we can do to reduce the calorie content of pizza and also to help make us feel full so that we don’t eat more than our bodies need.
How often do you eat pizza?
A report has shown that up to 22% of Americans eat pizza every day. If you assume that most of these daily pizza eaters are getting pizza from fast-food restaurants, it’s clear that they are eating a diet full of unhealthy, highly processed food.
Eating so much fast food is way too much of a good thing. A diet full of sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients doesn’t sate your appetite effectively, and this is why it’s so easy to overindulge in fast foods. In turn, this leads to obesity and health problems.
So, what can you do about it? Thankfully, you don’t have to stop eating pizza altogether.
How to make your pizza more healthy
Rather than ordering everyone to stop eating pizza like some kind of nutritional killjoy, let’s look at how you can pack your pizza full of fresh, healthy foods and avoid all that factory processed stuff from the fast-food places.
Where should you get your pizza?
You’ve probably figured out by now that there is pizza, and then there’s pizza. Fast-food pizzas are great, but they are the least healthy kind of pizza you can get, full of salt, sugar, and artificial ingredients.
Instead of buying takeaway pizza, why don’t you make your own?
If you are a keen chef, it’s great fun to experiment with making pizza dough and producing a restaurant-quality pizza on a pizza stone in your oven. The beauty of this is that you have total control over what goes into the meal. You can use fresh and healthy nutrient-filled ingredients and avoid added sugar and excess salt.
You can also prepare a pie with precisely the depth, crispiness, and toppings you like best. It’s the ultimate custom pizza tailored just for you.
If you aren’t a keen chef and don’t fancy the time and effort of making a pizza from scratch, then don’t worry; you can cheat.
Most stores sell pre-made pizza bases, so all you need to do is get some of these; wholemeal is good for extra fiber. Then, making your pizza isn’t much more complicated than cheese on toast. Simply add all the ingredients you want, top it with cheese, and put it in the oven. You can have this home pizza ready quicker than ordering delivery.
Many people who start making pizzas at home rarely or never order delivery pizza again, preferring the freshness and quality of homemade.
And if home cooking just isn’t for you, why not order so from a local restaurant that makes fresh pizza using healthy, whole-food ingredients? You will notice a difference in taste, and you’ll get full quicker, helping to control your weight.
Whole wheat flour contains lots of healthy fiber, so using this instead of regular flour gives a great tasting healthy tweak to your pizza.
It’s easy to make your own pizza sauce, and it will taste much better than store-bought. This way, you can control the amount of salt and sugar you use or leave it out altogether.
Firstly, it’s important to use toppings that you like. You shouldn’t get so carried away with the idea of healthy pizza that you stop enjoying it. But with a bit of thought, you can pack your pizza with nutritious and tasty toppings.
Meat and fish toppings contain lots of protein. In general, fresher and less processed meats are more healthy for you, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t add salami from time to time if you like.
Vegetable toppings are where you can pack in the healthy stuff. Pretty much any kind of vegetable cooks fast in the high heat of a pizza oven, so just chop up fresh vegetables and stick them on.
It’s also a good idea to vary the vegetable toppings from time to time so that you’re eating a wide range of vitamins and nutrients.
With a combination of bread, sauce, cheese, and toppings, it’s easy to treat a pizza as a complete meal, and there’s no harm in doing that sometimes.
But you can also serve pizza with tasty and healthy side dishes like salads, the complement the pizza and help to fill you up with nutritious less high-calorie foods.
If you eat pizza meals like this, you will be less likely to overeat and gain weight. You will also be able to eat pizza more often as part of your healthy diet.
Keep Eating Pizza
We’ve seen how pizza can actually be a good and healthy thing to eat. By cutting out or limiting the amount of fast-food pizza we eat, we can eat pizza more often without gaining weight.
Home-made pizzas full of nutrient and protein-rich toppings, especially when served with healthy side dishes, can be a regular fixture of a healthy diet.
Homemade pizzas fill us up quickly, so we don’t overeat. And since we are not gaining too many calories, we’re not gaining weight. And since we are not gaining weight, and we are eating healthy food, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t eat pizza again soon!
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