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

By Rick Hynum

For many years now, Individuals have been instructed 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 dwell longer—or so the story goes. However you’ll be hard-pressed to discover a nutritionist or dietitian who agrees. Actually, the alternative is true. And it’s time we began sharing the details with our prospects: They don’t need to really feel dangerous in regards to the meals that makes them really feel so good.

“Once you use actual meals and prepare dinner from scratch, the well being advantages are super,” says Katie Collier, proprietor of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria in St. Louis. “That is the philosophy in Italy. That is what I realized whereas residing there. It’s not about carbs or wheat; it’s about actual meals, no added sugar and exquisite, wholesome oils. For this reason you’ll be able to 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 don’t have any preservatives or elements that 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 just a little sea salt and a few herbs. They’re minimally processed and simple.”

So why accomplish that many individuals suppose consuming pizza will pack on the kilos? Possibly as a result of it’s the go-to meal for a superb 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 sport, 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 trendy pizza motion that focuses on recent, 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 12 months, has gotten constructive 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 many others.—in patio gardens at each retailer. “Once you use very recent, natural elements and make meals from scratch with out processing, you remove a whole lot 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 super. 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 Huge 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 consultants, these elements, eaten sparsely, are good for the physique.

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Simply ask Lindsay Wengler, a registered dietitian at Olive Department Vitamin in New York Metropolis. She makes a speciality of vitamin remedy for shoppers searching for freedom from weight-reduction plan or coping with consuming problems—aiming to assist shoppers “make peace with meals,” in response to her web site. “I spend a whole lot 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 supplies 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 really supplies.”


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 Vitamin Proposition

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

“Pizza dough, crafted with an unbelievable mixture of artwork and science, is fermented, which tends to make it simply digestible,” Wengler says. “The fermentation course of digests a number of the carbohydrates within the dough, which produces carbon dioxide—that’s how we get these lovely 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 may well additionally include vital 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 also 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 greater quantities in tomato sauce and canned tomatoes than in recent tomatoes, supplying you with all of the extra cause to take pleasure in a basic 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 might trigger worsening of imaginative and prescient.

“I spend a whole lot 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 Vitamin

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

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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 associates. So chalk one up for the olive oil in your pizza dough. “Olive oil is an unbelievable supply of monounsaturated fat (MUFAs), which have been proven to enhance coronary heart well being and stabilize blood glucose,” Wengler explains. “Olive oil can also 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 factors. “It comprises the three macronutrients your physique wants each day: carbohydrates, fats and protein. And whenever you add in veggies and different toppings, you additionally get important micronutrients, together with nutritional vitamins and minerals. In fact, 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 case 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—is not going to solely drive up the saturated fats content material of the dish but in addition 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 change into an more and more common topping, health-conscious prospects can nonetheless have their meat pizza and eat it, too.

Vegetarian and vegan pizzas are one other scorching menu merchandise lately, and there’s no denying their well being advantages. “Including extra recent veggies to your pizza will improve satiety, making you are feeling glad 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 lately, because of the proliferation of gluten-free choices. Moreover, Chuck Sillari, founder/chef of Mortadella Head in Somerville, Massachusetts, believes the correct dough making course of can assist 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 just a little bloated and full. For somebody with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it may be fairly dangerous. Research have proven that a whole lot 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 straight away, 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 cause, lots of people have a tough time digesting the gliadin. That causes the immune system to assault the internal lining of the small gut, which might trigger bloating and discomfort, and the liner of the intestines change into infected. This irritation doesn’t let your physique take up vitamins from the meals prefer it ought to, which might 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 achieved 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 aid to your abdomen. Numerous my prospects who usually have hassle 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 already know what your prospects need, and also you’re below no ethical obligation to make them eat more healthy. However you’ll be able to 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 be certain everybody is ready to create and revel in a pizza that matches their life-style.”

Your Pie’s web site presents a vitamin calculator for each order, from energy and whole fats to fiber, protein and sodium. “Our prime precedence is to offer a menu that caters to our prospects’ particular wants, so we requested them for his or her suggestions,” Dimson says. “We realized that sharing vitamin details helps folks make decisions that finest match their distinctive existence, which, in flip, helps us be sure that our visitor expertise is top-notch—and it doesn’t harm our backside line, both.”

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

Even in case you don’t provide a vitamin calculator in your web site, you’ll be able to nonetheless place your pizza as a wholesome meals alternative by means of social media advertising and marketing and your web site. You may as well spotlight “good-for-you” pizzas in your menu, each on-line and on paper. Embody info 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 nice for the soul, too. In response to Jessie Hulsey, a registered dietitian and advisor for Nutritious Existence in Atlanta, pizza presents “psychological well being advantages that shouldn’t be discounted. Consuming pizza can have a constructive 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 relaxed.”

Giving up pizza can have the alternative impact, Hulsey provides. “All in all,” she says, “whereas it’s vital 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.