Pizza’s Surprising Health Benefits

December 9, 2015 by | Comments Off on Pizza’s Surprising Health Benefits

As Americans grow more health conscious, pizza has had trouble shaking a reputation as an unhealthy food. The love affair with the savory pie has not cooled as a result of the “bad press” and pizza remains among our top ten All-American comfort meals of choice. Only now we feel guilty about indulging.

Well, ditch the guilt and call in your order, because that large thin crust may be a whole lot healthier than you’ve been led to believe!

Food scientists at the Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche in Milan did studies about this, and based on the answers 8,000 habitual pizza eaters gave on questionnaires, the researchers concluded pizza does not contribute to coronary artery disease and better still, regular consumption may actually fight certain types of cancer.

Sure, take those test results with a grain of salt—conclusions drawn from questionnaires are only as accurate as the answers given. You’ll be gratified to learn there are several well-documented, deliciously surprising ways pizza actually can be good for you!

It’s saucy

Tomatoes contain vitamins A and C, calcium, and the antioxidant lycopene, a combination of nutrients that transforms tomatoes into what you might call healthy eating all-stars. Cooking tomatoes (as in turning them into pizza sauce) releases even more of the antioxidants, so they’re easier for your body to process, potentially reducing your risk of stomach, colon, mouth, prostate, esophageal, and lung cancers. Stick with a low-sodium and low-sugar sauce and you’ve cut out two of the biggest nutritional no-nos in pizza sauce.

It’s spicy

With pizza you get your onion, your garlic, your black or red pepper, your basil, and your oregano. Among other things, garlic can lower bad cholesterol, onions help regulate blood sugar, pepper is good for the digestion, basil calms inflammation and improves heart health, oregano is packed with antioxidants.

It’s got milk

Well cheese, anyway, and cheese is one of the best sources of calcium out there. As a matter of fact, 1 slice of a 14” cheese Pie will give you about 22 percent of your daily calcium requirement! Artichoke, broccoli, or seafood toppings (the latter would include anchovies with their teeny, tiny bones) will bump the calcium even higher, keeping your bones, blood vessels, nerves, and muscles very happy.

It’s got protein

The aforementioned cheese is also rich in protein, as are any meats you might opt for as topping. Keep your pizza pie totally guilt free by choosing low-fat, low-cholesterol toppings: seafood, turkey pepperoni, or BBQ chicken. Regardless of your choice, you can get as many as 11 grams of protein per slice!

It’s crusty

Usually, crust is listed as one of pizza’s unhealthy points, but we say that depends. The trick is to pick your crust. Thin crusts are healthier than deep dish, and whole-grain crusts are the ultimate, due to the fiber factor (think: lower cholesterol and feeling fuller faster so you eat less). It doesn’t have to be doughy to be considered pizza. Lots of dough means lots of carbohydrates turning into sugar. Sure, a deep dish pizza may not be what the doctor ordered, but you’re not eating a pizza a day to keep the doctor away, right? Keep those doughy indulgences to a minimum and experiment with some healthier crusts by baking naan or whole wheat tortillas.

It’s a fun way to get your fruits and veggies

When you load your pizza with green peppers, red peppers, spinach, artichokes, olives, mushrooms—even pineapple, for goodness sake—you’re getting vitamins and minerals galore, with very few calories. That’s a nutritional win-win in anybody’s book.

It has all the food groups

We’re busy people, right? Lot of days, we don’t have time to cook healthy meals or make sure we’ve balanced our diets. Never fear, healthy eating enthusiasts, pizza has got your back! Think about it. With the right crust and toppings, The Pie can become a balanced meal all on its own. Where else can you get all the food groups in one fell swoop?

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