The Good Things About Pizza
Is Pizza good for You?
The Taste of Pizza
Ordering pizza is a common event for most of us. As we walk into the local pizza place, we see on display, a variety of circular and square shaped pies that invite us to choose a myriad of toppings. As the oven door opens, it becomes easy for our eyes to be transfixed by the beauty of a simple food. We know this piping hot dish will be a satisfying treat. The smell of pizza emanates throughout the pizzeria. As we make a decision and declare one slice or two, we imagine putting the triangular or square piece in our mouth. Our pupils dilate as they naturally do with anything that we like. Our salivary glands ready us to begin to eat this tasty Old world Italian food. Bite by bite, we can discern the spices and flavors of the many layers that make up a pizza. The soft melted cheese oozing over the sweet sauce, until our teeth sink into the crust, an edible plate that has held all this deliciousness in place. Pizza is certainly a multi-sensory experience. The knowledge of consuming pizza can be universally felt. When you watch someone else eat a pizza, you know what pleasures they are enjoying.
I am from New York, and have grown up tasting, probably the best pizza the United States has to offer. Independent pizzerias are located every few blocks in my suburban town. It has only been the last few years that the chain pizzerias opened up here, and although they give some unique toppings,they are no competition to the taste the local New York pizza places offer.
Pizza brings up a lot of memories for me. When I was growing up, some of my fondest recollections are of going out to lunch with my Mom at the local pizza place, and having Italian ices for dessert. When I was pregnant with my middle daughter, it was pizza that I craved on a daily basis. And as my kids grew, my Mom took my kids and me out for lunch to her favorite pizza place. Memories my daughters and I cherish.
Is Pizza Good for You?
Pizza is one of the most popular foods with my family and also in the world. Most people eat pizza because it offers a good value, convenience, it is fun to eat, and it tastes good. Pizza is both good and bad for you. There are many healthful benefits of the pizza, and with the right choices, pizza can actually be a well balanced meal.
Let’s look at what pizza is made of, and why the rewards of eating it are good for us in many ways.
The Sauce on Pizza
The tomato sauce that is put on pizza contains lycopene, which is an antioxidant that is believed to offer many benefits including the ability to fight against different cancers. Lycopene is a substance found in the skins of tomatoes, and is the reason tomatoes are red. Lycopenes help protect healthy cells in the body and possibly slow the spread of cancerous cells by inhibiting the action of free radicals. Free radicals form in body from wear and tear, aging, stressors from pollution, smoking, and ultraviolet rays. Lycopenes bind themselves to free radicals and stop them from causing this cell damage.
Lycopenes are also believed to prevent heart disease, male infertility, protect against bone loss, prevent preeclampsia, prevent macular degeneration, and cataracts,. Cooked tomatoes may even be a better source of lycopenes than fresh tomatoes. Some studies have shown, and some have not, that tomatoes combined with oil, can help the body utilize the lycopenes even better. According to the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Milan, researchers found that eating pizza once or twice a week could lower the risk of developing Researchers esophageal cancer by 59%, colon cancer by 26% and mouth cancer by 34%. They believe this may have to do with the lycopene in the tomato sauce. The study, done in 2003, compared 3,000 people who had gastro intestinal cancer and those who did not. Those who did not consumed pizza at least once a week.
In a Finnish research study done in October 2012, researchers concluded that the high levels of lycopenes correlated to a reduced risk of stroke. In this study, 1,031 middle aged males were followed for 12 years. The men with the highest levels of lycopene were 55% less likely to have a stroke than the men with the lowest levels of lycopene. The scientists believe that lycopene reduces inflammation and cholesterol, prevents blood clots from forming, and improves the immune function, and attacks the free radicals that threaten healthy body cells. They believe pizza is a very effective way to consume lycopene because lycopene is fat soluble, making it easier for the body to absorb in the oil in tomato sauce on pizza.
What is Pizza Made Of?
Pizza is also made with olive oil. Olive oil reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Olive oil is a monunsaturated fat, and can also control insulin levels. It also contains polyphenols, which has anti inflammatory properties and is a type of antioxidant which protects cells against damage. Researchers are looking into the polyphenols good effects on bones and digestion, cancer prevention, and the possibility that olive oil can improve memory and cognitive function.
The mozzarella cheese on pizza is filled with protein, calcium, which can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. The calcium in mozzarella cheese helps maintain a healthy blood pressure. Low fat mozzarella cheese is a healthier alternative.
Garlic is high in selenium, vitamin C, manganese. Oregano is a good source of vitamin K, manganese, and fiber. Basil – used to season most pizza sauces – is high in vitamin K, flavonoids and essential oils
Is Pizza good for you?
The Pizza Crust
The most healthful pizzas come from independent pizza places as opposed to chain pizzerias. Although pizza that comes from pizza chains and frozen pizzas from supermarkets contain higher amounts of salt, fat, and calories, this pizza may still be a better alternative to fast food.
Here is more about the good and bad about pizza and ways to make it even better for you.
The crust of pizza is usually made from grains that have the germ and bran removed which makes it refined. This is less nutritious because it has less fiber, less vitamins, and fewer minerals than whole grain products. Refined flour can put you at risk of weight gain and adding visceral abdominal fat which, according to a November 2010 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, can predispose a person to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast cancer.
Whole wheat pizza dough is better than regular refined pizza dough. Whole wheat pizza dough is a good source of insoluble fiber, iron, and magnesium. Fiber helps move food through the digestive tract and avoids or relieves constipation, and helps us feel fuller. Fiber can lessen the risk of developing diverticulitis. Whole wheat pizza dough is a good source of all B vitamins except for vitamin B-12. Whole wheat flour on pizza is a complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates have vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are found in foods such as breads, legumes, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables. We convert the carbohydrates into blood sugar called glucose. Complex carbohydrates as they are digested, help the blood glucose levels rise slowly. By ordering a thin crust pizza you lower your calorie intake.
Cheese is a saturated fat. The toppings like pepperoni and sausage are processed foods and not good for the arteries and cardiovascular system. Pizza topped with vegetables, choices like salad pizza, reduced fat cheese increase the healthful benefits of pizza.
Pizza is high in saturated fat, salt, and calories. While there are healthier choices to eat, pizza may be one of the best meal alternatives when it comes to take out, fast food, and casual dining.
The Cheese and Pizza
Pizza is also good for the economy. Many independent pizzerias and Italian restaurants buy their cheeses from farmers in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a state that is dependent on its dairy revenue. Approximately 25% of the over one million dairy cows in Wisconsin generate 150,000 jobs, which generates half of Wisconsin’s state farm profits and $26.5 billion circulating in the economy. Wisconsin boasts that 85% of the milk goes into cheese, one third of it is used to make mozzarella cheese that ends up on our pizza.
The popularity of pizza absolutely helps the dairy industry. In the 1970’s, cheddar cheese was considered the primary cheese of Wisconsin. Mozzarella was generally a specialty cheese made by farms that specialized in Italian cheeses that they sold mainly to Italian-American purchasers. Since then, mozzarella production has increased ten times and now out produces cheddar since the year 2000. Pizza has been an innovative force in transforming the cheese business in Wisconsin. A plant in Wisconsin is busy producing 2.4 million pounds of milk from 28,000 cows to produce 250,000 pounds of mozzarella every day.
California is the number one maker of mozzarella cheese in the U.S. Wisconsin is number two.
What Pizza Makers Look for in a Good Pizza
A good pizza is made of high quality ingredients, which include fresh made dough, top quality meats and vegetables for toppings, and the best cheeses so that pizza looks appetizing and tastes great.
The cheese pizza makers use on their pizza is a very important choice.
In a recent survey of pizza makers, done by the California Milk Advisory Board, this is what pizza makers are looking for when making their cheese selection, :
- Pizza makers look to use a high quality cheese
- The cheese be 100% natural
- How appetizing the cheese looks after it is cooked
- The texture of the cheese and that does not get soggy from cooking
- How evenly the cheese melts from cooking
- Does not burn when cooked
Pizza is also good because it is made fast and fresh. As pizza consumption has increased, food science and mozzarella research increases also. Part of the appeal of pizza is its relatively inexpensive price. This came about because cheese companies have worked to mechanize the process of manufacturing the cheese and keeping the price low and availability high. Pizza ovens have also undergone technological changes. Modern ovens can bake a pizza faster, making the ease of getting pizza faster. When new ovens were invented in the 1980’s, they were much hotter and it melted the cheese too much or it burned the cheese. This made food scientists research the factors that make up the cheese from the milk to the microbes, the taste, and how the cheese performed under different conditions.
In 2012, the USDA created new school lunch rules that limited the salt and the amount of calories from saturated fat. This made the food scientists look at what they could do to stay in the school lunch programs. Research is ongoing to lessen the sodium content by a minimum of 25%. By keeping the taste and creating a healthier pizza, the demand will grow increasingly.
California is the number one maker of mozzarella cheese in the U.S. Wisconsin is number two.
Is Pizza Junk Food, or Food Good for You?
94% of the U.S. population eats pizza.
Saturday night is the biggest pizza eating night.
Because of the high quantity of fat, refined carbohydrates, sodium, pizza is generally classified as junk food. Mozzarella cheese is high in saturated fat which can raise cholesterol levels and put a person at risk for heart disease. Meat toppings increase both the fat and saturated fat on a pizza. Now that you are educated about the good and bad of pizza, you can make choices that turn pizza from junk food into a healthier meal.
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