Pizza has a huge potential to be healthy but has unfortunately been ruined by the fast food industry. Pizza can be healthy if made properly, but today's fast food industry has hijacked a healthy meal and turned it into a food that should be eaten sparingly.
Fast Food Pizza is Unhealthy
"Fast food pizza" is unhealthy because of its ingredients. Fast food pizza is made on a white crust that is filled with refined carbs. These refined or processed grains are stripped of most of the healthy nutrients in the name of taste. You're left with is a grain that contains a lot of calories (empty calories) but little in the way of any nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or fiber. Fast food pizza is also loaded with cheese, fatty meats and salt, all of which can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Pizza remains one of the most popular foods in our culture and if you love it, don't stop eating it, simply make it healthier.
How to Make a Healthy Pizza
Papa John's slogan is, "Better ingredients, better pizza." Yes, better ingredients will make a better tasting pizza, but only healthier ingredients can make a healthier pizza. To keep this delicious meal in your diet, make your own pizza by using fresh and healthy ingredients. Homemade pizzas can be cheaper, healthier and even better tasting. Here are some ways to make a healthy homemade pizza:
Crust. A 100% whole wheat crust will give you the most benefits. These crusts are sometimes hard to find and don't always taste the best. If taste and/or availability are concerns, try a crust made from a mix of whole and white grains. You can also sprinkle flax seed and wheat germ onto your crust. Flax seed and wheat germ will add omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals into your pizza with little change in taste or texture.
Fresh Vegetables. Using fresh vegetables as toppings on your pizza will help increase the amount of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants you consume. Popular and healthy choices include onions, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes and mushrooms.
Lean Meats. One of the biggest problem with fast food pizza is that some of the most popular toppings are fatty meats such as pepperoni, sausage and ham. When making your own pizza, use lean meats such as chicken, low-fat ground beef or turkey. Also, go easy on the cheese.
Don't Stop at Pizza
Pizza is just one example of how home cooking is much healthier than eating out. Cooking more of your own meals allows you cut down your food bill while improving your health in almost limitless ways. You can control: calories, serving sizes, sources of ingredients, amount of fresh vs. frozen vs. canned ingredients, taste and specific dietary rules (kosher, gluten free...).
The Bottom Line
Pizza has all the right ingredients to potentially be very healthy. The type of pizza you find at a take out or eat-in restaurant is generally not healthy because of the refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and amount of sodium it contains. The pizza you can make at home out of fresh and healthy ingredients is however, a very healthy and tasty alternative.