Why Pizza Is the Really feel-Good Meals That is Good for You

By Rick Hynum

For many years now, People have been informed that pizza is an unhealthy meals. Bread and cheese and meat, begone! Wholesome consuming means broccoli, beets and Brussels sprouts! Save the pizza for birthdays and Tremendous Bowls, and also you’ll reside longer—or so the story goes. However you’ll be hard-pressed to discover a nutritionist or dietitian who agrees. In actual fact, the other is true. And it’s time we began sharing the info with our prospects: They don’t need to really feel dangerous concerning the meals that makes them really feel so good.

“Once you use actual meals and prepare dinner from scratch, the well being advantages are great,” says Katie Collier, proprietor of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria in St. Louis. “That is the philosophy in Italy. That is what I discovered whereas dwelling there. It’s not about carbs or wheat; it’s about actual meals, no added sugar and exquisite, wholesome oils. For this reason you may go to Italy and eat a ton of pasta and never achieve weight.”

Sean Ferraro, proprietor/chef of Madison Avenue Pizza in Dunedin, Florida, agrees. “I usually remind my prospects that, not like most meals, the elements that go into our pizza haven’t any preservatives or elements you could’t pronounce, and so they’re minimally processed,” Ferraro says. “Our dough, like most doughs, is made with flour, spring water, salt, sugar, olive oil and yeast. Our sauce is simply entire floor tomatoes with somewhat sea salt and a few herbs. They’re minimally processed and simple.”

So why achieve this many individuals suppose consuming pizza will pack on the kilos? Possibly as a result of it’s the go-to meal for a very good time, Ferraro suggests. “I feel pizza will get a foul rap as a result of it may be the quintessential ‘binge’ meals for those who are watching a soccer recreation, filling their stomachs after an evening out consuming, or quite a few different occasions when wholesome consuming isn’t a priority. However pizza isn’t only for binge consuming, particularly with the fashionable pizza motion that focuses on contemporary, native and high-quality elements.”


Katie Collier / Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria

The “All Meals Match” Philosophy

Collier, who plans to open her third retailer this yr, has gotten optimistic suggestions about her meals from prospects with diabetes. “Our pizzas and pastas don’t spike their blood sugar, and it’s the identical with gluten-intolerant prospects,” she says. “They don’t have as many reactions.” That’s no shock to Collier, who additionally grows herbs for her dishes—basil, oregano, mint, rosemary, tarragon, and so forth.—in patio gardens at each retailer. “Once you use very contemporary, natural elements and make meals from scratch with out processing, you remove lots of the hurt that we’re seeing from our overprocessed meals at the moment. We don’t prepare dinner with any sugar. We use native, fresh-milled, natural semolina and durum flour. We use solely extra-virgin olive oils. All of our produce is natural and native.”

“Once you use actual meals and prepare dinner from scratch, the well being advantages are great. That is the philosophy in Italy.”
— Katie Collier, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria

Granted, not each pizzeria proprietor is that picky about elements. For some, it’s all about low cost and quick. However, not like a Massive Mac, low cost and quick doesn’t essentially signify “unhealthy” in pizza making. Most pizzas have some key elements in frequent. And, in response to vitamin specialists, these elements, eaten carefully, are good for the physique.

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Simply ask Lindsay Wengler, a registered dietitian at Olive Department Diet in New York Metropolis. She focuses on vitamin remedy for shoppers in search of freedom from weight-reduction plan or coping with consuming issues—aiming to assist shoppers “make peace with meals,” in response to her web site. “I spend lots of time with my shoppers discussing the vitamin philosophy of ‘all meals match,’ and that there are not any ‘good’ or ‘dangerous’ meals,” Wengler says.

“Some meals get a foul rap as being ‘unhealthy’ or ‘dangerous,’ but we overlook the straightforward reality that every meals gives some sort of dietary, cultural or social part that shouldn’t be ignored,” she provides. “Once we begin to break down pizza for what it truly is—dough/bread, tomatoes, cheese and olive oil—we are able to see the way it doesn’t deserve the stigma. Once we analyze these elements even additional, we are able to see the vitamin and well being advantages that pizza truly gives.”


this photo shows Lindsay Wengler in a black, sleeveless shirt eating pizza with a fork in Naples, Italy.
Lindsay Wengler enjoys genuine Italian pizza at Gino Sorbillo in Naples. Courtesy Lindsay Wengler

The Diet Proposition

So let’s take a better have a look at the elements that make pizza so scrumptious and nutritious, beginning with the crust.

“Pizza dough, crafted with an unimaginable mixture of artwork and science, is fermented, which tends to make it simply digestible,” Wengler says. “The fermentation course of digests a few of the carbohydrates within the dough, which produces carbon dioxide—that’s how we get these stunning air bubbles in pizza crust. The complicated carbohydrates present in pizza dough present our cells with power and, relying on the kind of flour used, it might probably additionally include necessary B nutritional vitamins: thiamine, niacin and riboflavin, that are key vitamins in power manufacturing.”

Brittany Lubeck, a Fort Collins, Colorado-based registered dietitian and advisor for Oh So Spotless, provides that tomato sauce can be filled with vitamins. “Certainly one of these vitamins is lycopene, an antioxidant linked to prostate most cancers prevention,” she says. “Curiously, lycopene is present in larger quantities in tomato sauce and canned tomatoes than in contemporary tomatoes, supplying you with all of the extra motive to get pleasure from a traditional slice of pizza.”

In response to the New York Metropolis-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Most cancers Heart’s web site, lycopene-rich diets are additionally “typically related to a decreased danger” of each coronary heart illness and macular degeneration, which may trigger worsening of imaginative and prescient.

“I spend lots of time with my shoppers discussing the vitamin philosophy of ‘all meals match,’ and that there are not any ‘good’ or ‘dangerous’ meals.
— Lindsay Wengler, Olive Department Diet

What about mozzarella? Wengler says it’s “an unimaginable supply of protein, calcium, phosphorus and potassium, all of which contribute to bone well being and power.”

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There’s no denying mozzarella boasts its share of saturated fat, however not as a lot as many different cheeses. And a few fat are our pals. So chalk one up for the olive oil in your pizza dough. “Olive oil is an unimaginable supply of monounsaturated fat (MUFAs), which have been proven to enhance coronary heart well being and stabilize blood glucose,” Wengler explains. “Olive oil can be wealthy in phenols and vitamin E, which have highly effective antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.”

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Any wholesome meal must be nutritionally balanced, Lubeck says, and pizza meets the standards. “It incorporates the three macronutrients your physique wants day by day: carbohydrates, fats and protein. And while you add in veggies and different toppings, you additionally get important micronutrients, together with nutritional vitamins and minerals. After all, there’s a distinction between an extra-thick-crust, triple-cheese pepperoni pizza and a thin-crust veggie pizza, however that goes with out saying.”


this shows a person's hand holding up a slice of pizza with pepperoni, mozzarella and shreds of basil
Courtesy Mortadella Head

Making Pizza Even More healthy

True, in the event you pile on too many wealthy toppings, pizza turns into decidedly much less healthful, says Mary Wirtz, a licensed sports activities dietitian and advisor for Mother Loves Greatest. “Extreme quantities of cheese and processed meats—Canadian bacon, pepperoni and sausage—won’t solely drive up the saturated fats content material of the dish but additionally the sodium. If a few of these toppings are your absolute favourite, I encourage smaller (however flavorful) parts of those toppings.”

Then, once more, the human physique wants protein, too, as Lubeck talked about, and meat toppings present that in spades. And since hen has turn into an more and more standard topping, health-conscious prospects can nonetheless have their meat pizza and eat it, too.

Vegetarian and vegan pizzas are one other scorching menu merchandise today, and there’s no denying their well being advantages. “Including extra contemporary veggies to your pizza will enhance satiety, making you are feeling happy with fewer slices,” notes Eva De Angelis, a dietitian/nutritionist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and author for HealthCanal. “Greens are additionally naturally low in energy and fats whereas being excessive in bioactive compounds with quite a few well being advantages.”

“One of many keys to wholesome pizza is lengthy fermentation. It seems that the way you make the dough determines how you are feeling.”
— Chuck Sillari, Mortadella Head

Gluten-sensitive prospects and people with celiac illness additionally needn’t keep away from pizza today, due to the proliferation of gluten-free choices. Moreover, Chuck Sillari, founder/chef of Mortadella Head in Somerville, Massachusetts, believes the correct dough making course of may help with gluten sensitivity.

“One of many keys to wholesome pizza is lengthy fermentation,” Sillari says. “It seems that the way you make the dough determines how you are feeling. Bread and pizza are identified to make folks really feel somewhat bloated and full. For somebody with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it may be fairly dangerous. Research have proven that lots of these gluten sensitivities are attributable to the quick industrial baking processes getting used. When flour will get blended into dough and is baked off immediately, it doesn’t have time to ferment correctly, and the gluten proteins don’t have time to get damaged down.”

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Gliadin, a protein that makes up gluten when it’s blended with water, is “often the problem,” Sillari says. “For some motive, lots of people have a tough time digesting the gliadin. That causes the immune system to assault the interior lining of the small gut, which may trigger bloating and discomfort, and the liner of the intestines turn into infected. This irritation doesn’t let your physique soak up vitamins from the meals prefer it ought to, which may trigger discomfort.”

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An extended dough fermentation interval breaks down the gluten proteins earlier than they ever enter the physique. “In response to a examine performed on the College of Copenhagen in 2016, gluten degradation begins to happen at round 24 hours,” Sillari notes. “And the longer it ferments, the extra the gluten breaks down. I make Roman pizza al taglio dough and let it ferment for 72 hours. Numerous gluten is being damaged down throughout that point. That is going to be a reduction to your abdomen. Numerous my prospects who usually have bother consuming pizza inform me that ours doesn’t trouble them.”


this photo shows a man with a grey beard and a blue shirt carrying two large pizzas through Madison Avenue Pizza
Courtesy Madison Avenue Pizza

Soul Meals

As a pizzeria proprietor, you recognize what your prospects need, and also you’re underneath no ethical obligation to make them eat more healthy. However you may nonetheless educate them on the dietary worth of pizza and assist them select more healthy objects in the event that they so want.

“We consider well being is private, and so is the definition of ‘wholesome,’” says Lisa Dimson, chief advertising and marketing officer for Your Pie, headquartered in Atlanta. “We offer choices that match each diner’s distinctive wants. Whether or not somebody is searching for gluten-free, high-protein, keto or low-fat elements, we wish to make certain everybody is ready to create and revel in a pizza that matches their life-style.”

Your Pie’s web site provides a vitamin calculator for each order, from energy and complete fats to fiber, protein and sodium. “Our prime precedence is to supply a menu that caters to our prospects’ particular wants, so we requested them for his or her suggestions,” Dimson says. “We discovered that sharing vitamin info helps folks make selections that greatest match their distinctive life, which, in flip, helps us be certain that our visitor expertise is top-notch—and it doesn’t harm our backside line, both.”

“Consuming pizza can have a optimistic impact in your psychological well-being by comforting the soul and offering emotions of satisfaction.”
— Jessie Hulsey, registered dietitian

Even in the event you don’t supply a vitamin calculator in your web site, you may nonetheless place your pizza as a wholesome meals alternative by means of social media advertising and marketing and your web site. You can even spotlight “good-for-you” pizzas in your menu, each on-line and on paper. Embrace data from this text—the cancer-fighting potential of lycopene, for instance, or the body-fueling energy of carbs—in your social posts and/or in a devoted part of your web site. Create YouTube movies or Reels about your dough fermentation course of or the nutritional vitamins and fiber packed in your veggie pies.

And remind prospects that pizza is sweet for the soul, too. In response to Jessie Hulsey, a registered dietitian and advisor for Nutritious Life in Atlanta, pizza provides “psychological well being advantages that shouldn’t be discounted. Consuming pizza can have a optimistic impact in your psychological well-being by comforting the soul and offering emotions of satisfaction. It additionally stimulates dopamine manufacturing, which helps an individual really feel relaxed and comfortable.”

Giving up pizza can have the other impact, Hulsey provides. “All in all,” she says, “whereas it’s necessary to observe your portion sizes when indulging on this scrumptious deal with, there’s little question that having a slice or two of your favourite pie can do wonders on your psychological well being!”  

Rick Hynum is PMQ’s editor in chief.