What’s Really In That Pizza You Crave For
Even though pizza isn’t particularly good for you, it tastes so darn good that you don’t care. You make a promise to join a gym, as you reach for another greasy slice to shove in your face. Pizza varies tremendously in quality and health hazards, and it is actually possible for pizza to not be too bad for you…except almost no one actually eats those pizzas. The bread plate loaded with delicious cheese, greasy meat, and occasionally vegetables is actually a health nightmare, and that’s even assuming it’s made from real food. Even though knowing this won’t change your next order, this is what’s really in that pizza pie.
Working from the bottom up, we naturally begin with the crust. Mostly made from flour, yeast, salt and sugar, it has the potential to be fairly benign, because it’s just like bread, right? Kinda, maybe, not. The crust on your typical pizza is actually a huge contributor to the overall calorie count, but that’s not the whole story. Usually it’s made using highly refined wheat flour. It’s like regular flour, but with most of the good bits removed, thus denying you the few vitamins you might have benefited from. Highly refined flour is also less filling than regular flour, meaning you have to eat more to feel full. Pizza crust is also heavily loaded with salt and sugar to make it super tasty (and kinda addictive). But because one serving of just the crust potentially contains a fifth of your recommended daily allowance of sodium, your blood pressure is going to climb. Pizza crust also contains saturated fat, which will increase your cholesterol. Remember, we’re still just talking about the crust
Tomato sauce should be pretty safe, and it would be if it were just tomatoes in there. But to boost the flavor, it’s now often produced with extra salt (more high blood pressure), and high fructose corn syrup to sweeten things up. Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup is a big source of empty calories and has been linked to metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes. Tomato sauce isn’t the only kid on the block any more, either. Pizza sauce newcomers include ranch style sauce, barbecue, and marinara, and they all have their little something extra. Barbecue sauce can contain more than twice as much sugar as regular tomato, and Marinara extra specializes in salt.
While there are plenty of variations on the dish, everyone knows one thing: it ain’t pizza without cheese, whether that cheese be cheddar, mozzarella, or provolone, to name but a few. And while cheese can be a decent source of protein, helping your body to repair and grow, it is also a decent source of a few other things that aren’t so nice. Cheese tastes so good because it’s packed with fat, a lot of it saturated, and that’s bad for your heart. It is also calorie- and cholesterol-rich, which will help your belly grow big and soft and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If the person who made your pizza used pre-shredded cheese, then you may also be consuming cellulose, which is a cheap way to add volume. Unfortunately, cellulose is a fancy name for sawdust—which doesn’t really have any health risks, per se, but it sure isn’t cheese.