Build a Better Pizza
Keep your eye on a healthier pie
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
Ask any child for a list of his or her favorite foods and I'll bet a pile of pepperoni that, nine times out of 10, pizza makes the cut. This doesn't appear to be something we outgrow, either: In the Allrecipes.com 2002 Comfort Foods Poll, pizza was ranked the sixth most popular food among the more than 40,000 respondents.
But can you eat pizza and still eat healthily? The answer lies in the toppings, and the more Italian the pizza, the better.
As long as it's authentically Italian pizza, with a thin and bready (not greasy) crust made with a touch of olive oil, the crust isn't bad at all. Top it with lots of pizza sauce made with cooked tomatoes, olive oil and spices, and you're getting a nice dose of antioxidants.
Which brings us to the cheese: Cheese is a good source of protein and has vitamin B-12, calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals. But it also contributes fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, so don't go overboard. If you are making your pizza at home, use part-skim mozzarella and reduced-fat sharp cheddar to cut the fat and cholesterol almost in half.
A recent Italian study reported that pizza showed the most cancer-prevention promise of the many Italian foods tested. People who ate a slice or more per week had 59% less risk of esophageal cancer, 34% less risk of oral-cavity and pharyngeal cancer, and 25% less risk of colon cancer than others. Researcher Silvano Gallus, PhD, says he believes there is a protective compound in cooked tomatoes that may partly explain this effect.
Here are pizza ingredients with anticancer potential, according to recent research:
12 Ways to Build a Better Pizza
If we make a few adjustments in our preferences and portion sizes, we can enjoy a slice or two of pizza as part of a healthy eating plan. Here are 12 ways to get the nutritional benefits of pizza without the extra calories, fat, and cholesterol:
Originally published August 28, 2003.
SOURCES: International Journal of Cancer, July 2003. American Journal of Medicine, Dec 30, 2002. Food & Fitness Advisor, April 2003 and December 2002. American Institute for Cancer Research News, Winter 2002. National Cancer Institute Reports, November 2002. Young S. Kim, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute program director.
©1996-2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
- Allergic Skin Disorders
- Bacterial Skin Diseases
- Bites and Infestations
- Diseases of Pigment
- Fungal Skin Diseases
- Medical Anatomy and Illustrations
- Noncancerous, Precancerous & Cancerous Tumors
- Oral Health Conditions
- Papules, Scales, Plaques and Eruptions
- Scalp, Hair and Nails
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions
- Viral Skin Diseases
- Additional Skin Conditions