Is Pizza Healthy?

As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways, inconceivable. 

Out of curiosity… why do you ask?

Like most people, I have long considered pizza to be an indulgence at best and a health sin at worst. A greasy pile of dough, cheese and cured meats is hardly good for anyone, except after a night of drinking maybe, even though I think Taco Bell still is the best for a 2am post bar hopping meal. Drunkeness aside, considering all the calories, carbs, fat, sodium and chemicals in pizza there is really no debate (other than an occasional contribution to psychological, mental or social health), pizza is not good for you.

Or is it?

Most people’s first instincts are a pretty confident no yet curious why I’d be asking this question, since these type of intros are often followed with a post titled Rethinking Pizza or something similar. It wasn’t too long ago that I heard the FDA had listed pizza as a vegetable because of the tomato sauce, so maybe pizza is healthy because everyone knows vegetables are good for you (even though tomatoes are technically a fruit). Nevertheless, I was thinking about the question of pizza value the other day and a little debate started in my head, which is how many of my articles originate: the voices in my head trying to figure stuff out.

Rethinking Pizza

When we look at the food itself, the consensus certainly appears to be that pizza is not good for you and is not healthy, at least as it is generally practiced. Hundreds, if not thousands, of calories comprised flour (Ahhh- gluten!!!), cheese, sodium, nitrate filled fatty cured meats, and a few token olives or mushrooms. As a food entity, typical pizza is not healthy for anyone and there is literally no debate. Most people would also concede that choosing a thin crust, light cheese or vegetarian pizza is less bad for you than the thick, heavy cheesed, meat lovers pizza with a bacon wrapped, cheese filled crust.

But even a thin crusted, light cheese vegetarian pizza is still not considered “healthy” in general. It’s more a “healthiest way to do pizza” which is still not the best health choice you can make, meaning it’s not really healthy.

But what if it’s a gluten free crust? And grass fed, raw cheese? With fresh, local ingredients, prepared by a sweet italian grandmother from her kitchen?

Would you be healthier because you had this pizza?

Hmmm, maybe.

What if it’s piled high in kale, arugula and different types of other vegetables and herbs and spices? And had a crust made from cauliflower?

Now we might be getting somewhere. Is this pizza a health promoting food?

What if it’s the only way someone is going to eat vegetables? Is eating a vegetarian pizza worse than eating no vegetables at all? Or could you say it’s good for you? Maybe, healthy?

If someone loves pepperoni pizza and doesn’t eat vegetables, would they benefit from a pepperoni and veggie pizza? 

What if you’ve under eaten for a week? Could your body benefit from a nice pizza?

What if it’s post workout?

Considering all of the above possibilities, could my body benefit from this pizza?

Thin crust, marinara sauce, light mozzarella and parmesan cheese, some chicken, a few pepperoni slices, green peppers, banana peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, oregano, cilantro.

Or is it still not healthy?

What’s the point to all these rambling, endless scenario questions?

I don’t have an answer to the question of “is pizza healthy?” No one does. 

Pizza isn’t healthy or unhealthy as a entity. It is about context, just like almost every other food. I think it can enrich your body in the right context and can hinder it in the wrong context. I have had plenty of pizzas that did more harm than good and I think most people have as well. 

However, I think that my pizza the other day helped my health. One of my favorite things about pizza is that it’s a vessel for toppings and I can load up on tons of vegetables and some proteins that I don’t usually get in a very enjoyable and delicious way.

To me that’s healthy, not the healthiest way to do an unhealthy food.

Once again, the point of rethinking pizza isn’t to encourage a free for all at your local Dominoes but to put things in context. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Could we have the same discussion about sandwiches? Or pasta dishes?


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