Pizza: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Pizza is a food that many people enjoy. The main problem with it is that one slice can contain around 300 calories, and usually, one slice is not sufficient to fill you up. Here are a few ideas for making a healthier pizza at home:

  • Use whole-wheat crust. You can purchase ready-made dough, or substitute whole-wheat flour in your regular pizza dough recipe. The whole wheat flour contains grains and fibers that will help you feel full for longer, as well as greatly benefit your digestive system.
  • Use a large amount of sauce. The tomato sauce is a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
  • Use less cheese. Although cheese is rich in calcium and protein, it also has a lot of calories. If you don’t want to cut back on the cheese, use a low fat cheese instead.
  • Don’t use greasy, processed meats. Pepperoni and sausages are very high in fat, and are associated with stomach and colorectal cancers.
  • Load on the vegetables! These are nutritious and low in calories.

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If you intend to stick with restaurant pizza, you may want to consider starting with a salad, as this will fill you up enough that you won’t eat too many slices later on.

To Eat the Cheese or Not Eat the Cheese, That is the Question

In an apparent contradiction, or perhaps just a case of the right hand not telling the left what it is doing exactly, two agencies of the U.S. government have at once recommended eating more cheese while at the same time warning its citizens about the dangers of eating too much cheese.

Dairy Management, a creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a marketing tool which has made cheese its raison d’etre. Last year Dairy Management teamed up with Domino’s Pizza to develop a new pizza product offering 40% more cheese. Combining this with a marketing campaign, sales soared in the double digits. Too bad cheese, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, is discouraging the eating of the very same foods the Dairy Management agency is promoting in a campaign to reduce obesity through the lowering the consumption of cheese.

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Eating more cheesy Domino’s Pizza notwithstanding, Americans have been struggling to change their diets to contain less saturated fats by eating less cheese and other low-fat dairy products. This tendency has created a surplus of whole milk and milk fat foods, thus establishing the need for the Dairy Management agency to promote those same milk and cheese products the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is discouraging. Well it’s no wonder us consumers feel confused.

Finally, Something We Like Which is Good For Us: Pizza

You probably already know that pizza is a popular food, but did you know that in the United States upwards of 350 slices are eaten every single second? That astounding number of pizza slices eaten at every moment attests to the infatuation Americans have for this easy to eat, tasty and quite healthy fast-food.  You might be surprised to hear that pizza is healthy, considering its high cheese and oil content, but if prepared the correct way, pizza can be quite a healthful food.

Food chemists explain that the key to preparing a healthy pizza pie is to make the crust with whole wheat flour and to bake in a very hot oven. Using whole wheat flour in place of white flour is the single most important factor in pizza making which causes the release of the disease fighting compounds known as anti-oxidants.  It has been shown that antioxidants can protect people from developing cancer and heart disease. The longer the pizza was cooked, and the higher the temperature, also contributed to raising the levels of antioxidants in the pizza. It also helps to let the dough rise longer. Doubling the dough-rising time from one day to two also doubled the amount of antioxidants found in the pizza.

It is nice to know that with a minimum amount of effort pizza can go from being just a tasty treat to a healthful meal for you and your family. Here is a recipe for healthier pizza crust that you can easily make yourself.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust with Enhanced Antioxidant Availability
1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100-110°F)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
The day before…
•  Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Stir with whisk until yeast dissolves.
•  Add honey, oil and salt. Stir with whisk until honey and salt dissolve.
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•  Measure flour into large mixing bowl. Add water mixture to flour.
•  Mix with wooden spoon until dough forms.
•  Transfer dough to floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes. Dough may be sticky.
•  Divide dough into 3 sections and shape each section into a ball.
•  Transfer dough balls to a lightly oiled pan, leaving a few inches for each ball to raise.
•  Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap.
•  Store pan overnight (~18 hours) in the refrigerator.
The day of…
•  Allow dough to come to room temperature. (about 30 minutes)
•  Preheat oven to 500°F.
•  Roll each ball out to a 12 inch circle on a pizza screen.
•  Top with tomato sauce, cheese and desired toppings.
•  Put pizza in middle rack of preheated oven. Bake for 6 – 8 minutes, until crust gets browned.
•  (A pizza pan or stone can also be used to bake the pizzas. Baking times may change.)