Unexpected Health Benefits of Pizza
With its countless shapes, styles and of course topping choices, you'd have to live under a rock not to know that pizza is one of the most popular foods on the planet. What you might not know is that pizza can offer some incredible health benefits as well. Your next trip to the pizza parlor might be your healthiest yet if you follow a few simple pie-building tips.
It's in the Sauce
When you think of your favorite pizza, you're probably salivating over choice toppings like onions, feta cheese, mushrooms, green peppers or whatever else you fancy. There's one major component of most American-style pizzas that's often overlooked as a result of its inconspicuous placement: the tomato. The main ingredient of most pizzas, excepting niche offerings like Margherita and white pizzas, is tomato sauce.
Tomatoes are chock-full of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant, and immune-boosting Vitamin C. Pizza sauce contains more than just tomatoes, however, so its health benefits don't stop there. Most pizza sauces also contain:
- Garlic, which contains energy-rich Vitamin B6, cancer-fighting manganese and more Vitamin C.
- Olive oil, which lowers "bad" cholesterol in your body by replacing it with high-density, energy-rich fatty oils that your body needs to survive.
- Basil and oregano, two herbs that are high in fiber and Vitamin K, which is essential for blood coagulation.
Choosing Your Toppings
When it comes to your favorite pizza toppings, you may be set in your ways, but it never hurts to re-evaluate your preferences. Remember that a healthy pizza loaded with green vegetables and healthy seasonings can be just as tasty as an unhealthy one.
Some particularly healthy pizza toppings include:
Low-fat cheeses. Whether it's mozzarella, feta, or Parmesan, you probably have a go-to favorite cheese topping. While cheese is as important to pizza as tomato sauce, choosing lower-fat dairy will increase your pizza's health benefits. Part-skim cheese is high in calcium, which is essential for bone and heart health.
Green vegetables. Asparagus, spinach and green peppers all contain high levels of antioxidants that can transform your favorite pizza into a health food in the blink of an eye. If you're worried about leafy vegetables wilting in response to the high temperatures found in a pizza oven, add them part of the way through the cooking process.
Niche vegetables. Onions, olives and certain types of peppers are all important non-green vegetable toppings. If you can handle the saltiness, sprinkle pitted olives onto your pizza for a flavorful heart-healthy alternative to olive oil, or mix garlic and onions liberally with your cheese for heart health.
Pizza is one food whose health benefits are, if anything, understated. According to reliable studies, pizza reduces your risk of oral cancer by 34 percent, colon cancer by over 25 percent, and esophageal cancer by a whopping 59 percent. In addition, the lycopene found in tomato sauce has been determined to inhibit tumor growth.
For too long, pizza has been unfairly maligned as intrinsically unhealthy (or unfairly and uncorrectly called a vegetable!). To build the healthiest pizza possible, you'll need ample helpings of tomato sauce, vitamin-rich vegetable toppings, low-fat cheeses, and tasty seasonings with proven health benefits. With the right ingredients, you won't have to feel guilty about ordering a few slices of your favorite guilty pleasure.
Renee Varney is a freelance blogger and occasionally writes for delivery.com a site she loves using to find local Pizza Delivery Online, especially when she wants to Order Delivery instead of going out.
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