What actually happens in your body when you eat pizza?
Pizza… yum. Lovely cheese, tangy meat, a few veggies, all baked into luscious richness. It’s the staple food of children, teens and college students. Pizza day is the most popular day at school and it’s something even the pickiest eaters enjoy.
You might guess it is all bad, but there are actually some benefits to eating pizza. The good is more than just in the taste!
We’ll also give you some tips for creating a healthier pizza that will still taste just as good. You’ll be surprised at how easy it can be to make a healthier pizza and number 4 is the simplest solution!
Starting at the bottom, the crust is basically white bread made with white flour. Your body processes white flour as easily as it does sugar and immediately stores it at belly fat. Commercial crusts often use trans fats (hydrogenated oils). Those are very bad for hearts and contribute to obesity.
The olive oil drizzled on is good for you! It contains fatty acids that your body is probably desperately short of.
Try for a whole wheat, unstuffed crust. You’ll get extra fiber to help your guts better process food.
The Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a generally good thing! Tomatoes are high in lycopene. This carotenoid gives tomatoes their color. Lycopene appears to protect against cancers and may even slow tumor growth. Eat broccoli on your pizza for increased absorption of lycopene.
Now the bad, tomato sauce is also high in sugar – it offsets the tomato’s acidity. Sugar causes obesity and is easily stored as belly fat. It can lead to insulin intolerance and later diabetes.
Make your own tomato sauce with less sugar or go easy on the sauce.
There is nothing good to say about processed meat. Sausage, bacon, and ham are all super high in salt, saturated fat, and nitrates. All of these are associated with cancer and obesity and cardio-vascular issues.
Hamburger and chicken are marginally less unhealthy. However, the barbeque sauce is pretty much sugar. The meat generally comes precooked to pizza chains, so it may not be degreased or may have been cooked in trans fats.
Go easy on meat and avoid meat lover style pizzas.
Vegetables are possibly the healthiest part of your pizza. There are a lot of health benefits from fiber to vitamins to antioxidants in vegetables. As long as they go into the oven roasted or raw, they are healthy for you and add some of the few nutrients you’ll get in your pizza. Go easy on salty veggies like olives.
Ask for extra veggies on your pizza for the simplest solution to making your pizza healthy.
Cheese is what makes the pizza. It is also really unhealthy! While cheese is a dairy product that offers a lot of protein, it is also full of saturated fat. Saturated fat is linked to obesity, heart problems, and many other health issues.
Instead of asking for extra cheese, ask for less cheese. It may take getting used to, but your heart will thank you. In addition, avoid the stuffed crust. It might taste good, but it is just extra calories and saturated fat.
The Entire Pie
That lovely pie is a calorie bomb. One slice of cheese pizza contains about 213 calories. You’ll get 18% of your day’s allotment of saturated fat, 20% of salt, plus carbohydrates, sugar, and cholesterol. And how many people eat just one slice?
One slice of pepperoni pizza ups calories to 313 – more than 1/3 from fat! You’ll get 29% of saturated fat, 32% of salt, as well as carbohydrates, sugar, and cholesterol.
Ok… you do get calcium, potassium, iron, vitamins A and C.
Wipe the grease from your chin and consider the aftereffects of eating pizza. You might feel bloated and overfull. It’s the salt. Your heart is having to work extra hard to move blood through your body and your kidney is struggling to remove extra water. Your arteries, brain, heart and kidneys are taking a beating.
You might feel constipated. There is very little fiber in the average pizza and all that cheese is stopping you up. You may get headaches, acne, hemorrhoids, and even bad breath.
Pizza is easy on the taste buds and hard on the body. Given all the side effects from constipation to heart attacks, slowing down pizza consumption is important. If you eat pizza as a treat, go for a whole wheat, unstuffed thin crust, heavy on the veggies and light on the cheese and meat.
With a few simple tweaks, you can make pizza healthier, but you still should only eat it once and a while. And limit yourself to one slice, not the whole pie. And… final hint, cut back on the beer too. It’s just adding insult to your kidneys and belly.