Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s one of the most popular foods in the world! Better yet, these health benefits of pizza will leave you feeling good about eating a slice or two!
It may sound too good to be true, but eating pizza can actually be a great way to eat healthy.
Pizza is mostly associated with weight gain, and pizza lovers tend to feel like they’re neglecting their health when they enjoy a single slice of pizza (or two). However, pizza can have health benefits and you can create even more benefits by choosing as many healthy ingredients for your pizza as possible.
Can pizza really be considered a healthy food? Yes, if it’s made just right, it can be a regular part of a healthy diet.
Healthy Pizza Toppings
Healthy eating has a reputation for being bland, but choosing the best toppings to make your pizza healthier is far from boring.
These healthy toppings are both healthy and delicious. Skip the extra cheese and go for light, low fat cheese and extra vegetable toppings.
- Butternut squash
- Yellow Squash
- Green olives
- Black olives
- Kalamata olives
- Artichoke hearts
- Baby spinach
- Dry or fresh basil
- Banana peppers
- Green onion
- Yellow onion
- Red onion
- Picked onion
- Jack fruit
- Minced garlic
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Sliced tomato
- Bell peppers
- Pizza sauce
- Roma tomatoes
- Low fat cheese
- Dairy-free cheese such as vegan ricotta or store bought vegan cheese
Lean Proteins for Pizza
There are a variety of healthy proteins you can add to your pizza. Protein can be found in many ingredients, even if you don’t use very much cheese or meat, or any at all.
Beans and nuts sound like strange pizza toppings, but they’re actually tastier and more common than you may think.
- Deli meat
- Grilled chicken
- Turkey meatballs
- Black beans
- Pine nuts
- Slivered Almonds
- Turkey pepperoni
Healthy Pizza Crust Options
Pizza crust can be made from so many different things.
Surprisingly enough, pizza crust can even be made from grains, vegetables and beans.
Gluten-free crusts and thinner crust have nutritional benefits as well, but even if you don’t like thin crust, a traditional pizza crust can be healthy if you top it with the right things.
- Cauliflower crust
- Zucchini crust
- Whole wheat crust
- Pita bread pizzas
- Rice cake pizzas
- Chickpea crust
- Sweet potato crust
- Spaghetti squash crust
- Quinoa crust
According to the American Heart Association, eating pizza with 100% whole wheat crust is the best choice for pizza lovers. They also recommend swiss cheese, as it is low in sodium and fat.
A recent study found that the average slice of pizza can contain about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of sodium, so to keep your pizza healthy, choose options that are lower in sodium.
Speaking of cheese, fresh mozzarella is actually a good cheese option for your pizza! It is lower in fat and sodium than many other cheeses.
Mozzarella is also a good source of protein, assists with calcium intake as well as phosphorus, all of which are essential nutrients health.
Since mozzarella is the traditional cheese that is used on pizza, this is good news for pizza lovers!
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Pizza
1. Pizza is a tasty way to eat more fresh vegetables
You can add endless varieties of fresh veggies to your pizza. Veggies really are the best topping for a healthy pizza, and pizza can be the best way to get your veggies!
Loading your pizza with veggies is a good way to get a nutritionally dense meal, and reach your recommended daily value of vegetables in a more “fun” and enjoyable way.
Pizza toppings can be a good source of calcium and other important essential nutrients, and even vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
Your immune system will thank you for all of those delicious vegetables you add to your pizza!
2. Pizza can easily be made at home
Convenience matters and making your own pizza at home is really easy. It doesn’t require very much time or effort, which makes all the difference when you’re trying to decide if you should grab fast food or cook at home.
You can go all out and make your own pizza crust, or buy a healthy pizza crust at your local grocery store.
Another option is finding a healthy frozen pizza at your local store and adding even more veggie toppings to it before you cook it.
If you make vegetables the main ingredient, your pizza will be healthier!
3. Pizza can help you absorb the antioxidant Lycopene
Lycopene is found in tomatoes, which are used to make the base sauce for pizzas.
Lycopene helps to lower blood pressure and bring down high cholesterol. It’s also more easily absorbed from cooked tomatoes as opposed to fresh tomatoes.
Get a tomato sauce that doesn’t have any added sugar and you’ll boost the health points for your pizza even higher!
4. It can be a healthy treat option to help you stay on track
If you don’t allow yourself something you consider a treat once in a while, you will struggle to stay on track living a healthy lifestyle.
Pizza can be made healthy and still feel like you’re enjoying something a little frivolous.
5. Pizza is less processed than other “fast foods”
Not only are you getting less processed food when you eat pizza, but you’re also getting baked food instead of deep fried food. That’s a leg up on basically any other convenience drive-thru foods you can get. Winner, winner, pizza dinner.
6. Pizza is highly customizable for health
You have tons of options for customization to make your pizza as healthy as you want it. You don’t even have to cook it at home to make it the way you want it.
Even ordering pizza can be customized to be much healthier. No matter where you order your pizza, you can choose to leave off the cheese, go a little light on the cheese, swap out high fat ingredients for leaner, healthier ones.
Try choosing lean meats, swapping mozzarella cheese for vegan cheese, choose thin-crust pizza, and of course limit the number of slices you consume. Some places even offer vegan dairy-free substitutions.
7. Pizza can offer a fiber-packed punch
Pizza can be full of fiber in the crust and the toppings. Fiber is important for health so pile on those veggies. Whole wheat crusts and veggie crusts both contain fiber.
8. Pizza is a mood booster
Again, who doesn’t love pizza?
There’s something about the thought of a pizza that brings joy. But more scientifically, carbs produce serotonin and so do all those yummy pizza toppings.
When you eat pizza, you’re fueling your brain with what it needs to produce those feel-good hormones.
9. Pizza can be a well balanced meal
Pizza can contain all of the major food groups in one perfect pie.
If you’re careful about the amount of cheese you add and pile on the greens and other veggies with a good tomato sauce, you can have a great source of calcium, an excellent source of protein, and satisfy your taste buds all at once.
Pizza can be customized to meet your daily requirements when it comes to grams of protein, important nutrients, and more.
10. Pizza can be altered to fit any diet
We’ve already mentioned that pizza is highly customizable, but it’s worth noting that almost any diet you are on can include pizza if you make it with the right ingredients. That pretty much makes it the perfect food.
Is Pizza Healthy?
You can make different types of pizza for so many different types of eating (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free), and the calorie content can be easily adjusted with the toppings and ingredients of pizza you choose.
Additionally, you really can choose the nutritional value of your pizza by customizing it to meet your nutritional needs.
You read that right, pizza (when made right) can be the perfect health food!
Let’s recap the health benefits of pizza discussed above:
- Pizza is a great source of fresh vegetables
- Homemade pizza is easy for the family to make, and contains less preservatives and chemicals than grab-n-go meals.
- Tomato sauce contains lycopene which helps to lower blood pressure and reduce high cholesterol
- Pizza can be a healthy “on-the-go” treat with right toppings
- Pizza is less processed than other fast foods
- Pizza is highly customizable for health and dietary needs
- Pizza can be a fiber-packed meal
- Pizza is a mood booster
- Pizza can be a well-balanced meal
If pizza is your favorite food, you’re in luck! While traditionally thought of as junk food, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Many people immediately link pizza in their minds to heart disease and bad cholesterol because standard take out pizza can contain high amounts of sodium, fat, and calories.
However, even fast-food restaurants these days are offering healthier pizza options.
Now you know there actually can be many health benefits of pizza. Whether ordering out or making a homemade pizza, you can choose healthier ingredients, maybe a whole-grain crust, a veggie pizza and even look for gluten-free options.
With all the different flavors and amazing combinations, creative vegetarian pizzas and vegan pizzas, you can easily have healthy pizza next time, yay!
Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy: