When it comes to fast food, making healthier choices often depends on what you’re adding to your basic order. The same goes for pizza. Though it’s easy to order a deluxe meat lover’s pie and decide to face the consequences later, leaving off most of those toppings could make all the difference. Here’s how to — and not to — build a healthier pizza.
Worst: Extra sauce
Pizza sauce doesn’t have many calories, and it’s relatively low in fat. Unfortunately, it’s extremely high in sodium. Even though you might love pizza for its saltiness, there’s really no need to add extra sauce. You can still enjoy a good slice or two without extra salt. This might mean you’ll need to save the deep dish slices for special occasions … but regular crust is still technically pizza, right?
Best: Fresh mushrooms
Mushrooms can give you the fiber and antioxidants processed meat simply can’t. When cooked, their nutritional value belongs in a variety of dishes. Just make sure the mushrooms on your pizza are fresh, not canned. You don’t want to miss out on the benefits of fresh ones, especially when you’re trying to make your pizza taste better.
Even though meat technically packs in a lot of protein, most of the sausage you’ll find on pizza isn’t worth bumping up your protein intake. Like bacon and pepperoni, it’s a processed meat. This means that when you eat it, you also automatically take in way more fat, calories, and especially sodium than you should. It’s just not the best topping when trying to build a healthier (yet still delicious) pizza.
Best: Fresh olives
Olives are low in calories and carbs, and contain mostly healthy fat. According to Healthline, they’re also an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, and calcium. As with mushrooms, don’t go for olives if they’re coming out of a can. Your dinner will taste much better with as many fresh ingredients added on as possible.
Worst: Extra cheese
It’s tempting. Especially on those pizzas that have the cheese-stuffed crust. Do your best not to give in to your cravings, though — especially if you eat a lot of takeout pizza. Mozzarella cheese, the most common type used during pizza-making, often originates from whole milk, which contains more calories and fat than other cheeses. It’s a relatively healthy cheese — you just don’t need to add extra, no matter how much you want to.
The idea of putting veggies on pizza might not sound all that appealing. But it’s easy to sneak in a serving or two without ruining the texture or taste of your favorite Friday night meal. Spinach is the ultimate vegetable. It’s high in protein as well as fiber and other minerals and vitamins. If you love Italian food too much to settle for a salad when ordering in, this is the perfect way to compromise.
We know you know pepperoni isn’t good for you. And sure, it’s fine to enjoy every once in awhile. Unfortunately, it’s hiding more sodium, saturated fat, and calories than you probably want to think about. Livestrong.com also warns that eating too much pepperoni can expose you to potentially harmful chemicals called nitrates, formed during the curing process. Though it’s hard to resist, skip this one.
Best: Red and green peppers
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, bell peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals. They’re also loaded with fiber and antioxidants, which definitely makes them worthy of space on your pizza. They’ll also add flavor and texture to your pizza without having to go overboard on the meat and canned toppings. Fresh is always best!
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