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Pizza is an incredibly popular food in the US. With about 13% of all Americans eating pizza on any given day, it’s no surprise that—in the US alone—over three billion pizzas are consumed each year. And contrary to what many people think about pizza, it can actually be quite good for you!

Is Pizza Bad For You?

It’s all about the choices you make in deciding what kind of pizza to eat. The typical extra-everything, cheese-in-the-crust pizzas you can get from some chain delivery restaurants are full of highly processed ingredients, and with that kind of pizza, health benefits are pretty slim. Crust and toppings with high amounts of sodium and fat—not to mention additives and preservatives found in processed meat toppings—make a “typical” pizza an unattractive option.

When Is Pizza Good For You?

When it’s more of a back-to-basics, purist approach. Classic—as in Classical—choices are your best bet. A traditional thin crust pizza is much lower in carbohydrates and sodium than other options and isn’t meant to be drowned in sauce and cheese. If you choose toppings like roasted vegetables, basil, spinach, or even just roasted garlic, you’ll be adding a serving or so of vegetables, getting all those great nutrients—and all in place of a pound of pepperoni, extra cheese, and all those added calories.

Pizza Health Benefits

And those aren’t the only reasons why pizza is good for you. The typical slice of pizza has enough cheese to equal about 20% of the suggested daily intake of both protein and calcium. Tomato sauce is a great source of vitamin C, and also contains lycopene, which is known to fight cancer.

Making your own pizza at home in a wood-burning oven is a fantastic way to enjoy preparing this easy, healthy meal, and there is nothing like a wood-fired oven for incredible pizza.

Start with either a prepared thin crust (read the label to choose one with healthy ingredients) or make your own crust with whole-grain flour. An organic, no added sugar or salt tomato sauce is a great choice, or you can just skip the sauce entirely and add fresh or sundried tomatoes as one of your toppings. Provolone and mozzarella cheeses are the traditional choices for topping the sauce, but you should feel free to experiment here as well, as there are many great options. Add vegetables, lean meats, and any other topping you’d like, and enjoy your pizza guilt free—after all, done right, it’s good for you!

Continue to the next blog post for ideas for pizza oven toppings!

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