Pizza is one of the more popular options for fast food, with each American eating an average 46 slices in a year. Although pizza is a good source of some essential nutrients, it can be high in sodium, fat and calories. The healthiest take-out option is thin-crust pizza without a lot cheese that is topped with extra vegetables and no meat.
Pizzas is a good way to increase your calcium intake for the day. Cheese is one of the better sources of calcium but not the only source in pizza, since tomato sauce also contains calcium. One slice from a 14-inch cheese pizza contains about 219 milligrams of calcium, or 22 percent of your daily value. Top your pizza with spinach, artichoke, broccoli or seafood and you will increase its calcium content even further, since these also contain the mineral. Calcium helps you keep your bones strong and also helps your blood vessels, nerves and muscles function correctly.
Eating pizza will also help you get the protein you need for building muscle and other tissues in your body. While cheese is a good source of protein, choosing a pizza with meat will boost your pizza's protein content, but it can also greatly increase the fat if you choose pepperoni, sausage or hamburger. Chicken and seafood are healthier high-protein toppings. A slice of a 10-inch pizza topped with turkey pepperoni and mushrooms contains 11 grams of protein.
You should eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day, and ordering a pizza loaded with vegetables is a delicious way to add to your day's vegetable intake. You can add your favorite vegetables to the top of a frozen cheese pizza for a quick meal if you don't have time to make your own pizza. Add broccoli, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms or any other vegetable you like. Try to eat a mix of different-colored vegetables for the greatest health benefits.
If you eat a pizza with a whole-grain crust, it will also help you meet your recommended intake of at least three servings of whole grains per day. This means you'll get more fiber for the day, since whole-wheat crusts have at least twice as much fiber as regular crusts, with each slice from a 10-inch pizza containing 4 grams of fiber versus the 1.5 grams in slice of a regular-crust pizza. This fiber can lower your risk for health problems such as high cholesterol and constipation and help fill you up so you don't overeat.
- MayoClinic.com: With Diabetes, Eating Pizza Not Always a Treat
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The 'Za: A Quick and Healthy Meal
- KidsHealth: Mealtime Makeover: Whole-wheat Pizza
- ChooseMyPlate: Food Groups
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16: Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, Calcium, Ca (mg) Sorted by Nutrient Content
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Fast Food, Pizza Chain, 14" Pizza, Cheese Topping, Thin Crust
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.