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Is Pizza Bad For You

by Annabel Caldwell
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Is Pizza Bad For You

Is Pizza Bad For You

Pizza is a great source of nutrients in the American diet. It provides high percentages of the total daily intake of protein, fat, saturated fat, fibre, calcium and lycopene.

In 2008, researchers at Harvard University found that eating pizza can raise your risk for diabetes by up to 65 percent. The study looked at more than 3,000 people who had recently eaten either pizza or another type of carbohydrate-rich food like bread or pasta, then measured their blood sugar levels 30 minutes later. Compared with those who ate other types of foods, diabetics were much more likely to have higher glucose levels after consuming pizza.
The findings aren’t shocking when you consider that there are upwards of 40 million pizzerias across America, each churning out about 2 billion slices of pie annually. But what’s especially troubling about this research is that it was conducted on an extremely select group of people — all white, middle class, heterosexual couples living together in Massachusetts. Researchers believe that these results may not be generalizable to everyone.
But even if they are, this doesn’t mean pizza should be avoided altogether. On the contrary; pizza has many benefits. In fact, it is one of the healthiest foods in the world. Here are some of them:
It helps prevent cancer
Studies show that diets rich in antioxidants help reduce the incidence of cancer. And one such antioxidant is lycopene which gives tomatoes their red pigment. Lycopene is also found in watermelon, guava, apricot, papaya and kiwi fruit. When we take in lycopene through our diets, it gets converted into vitamin A, which plays a key role in fighting off viruses and bacteria inside us as well as outside.
Lycopene is an effective cancer fighter because it works against DNA damage caused by free radicals (radicals are molecules that cause cell injury). Free radicals attack healthy cells, causing them to age faster and die younger. As we get older, our bodies produce fewer enzymes that detoxify these free radicals. So when we supplement our diets with lycopene, it protects our cells from damage caused by oxidation. This is why lycopene supplements can help men fight prostate cancer and women fight breast cancer.
One of the best ways to increase your intake of lycopene is by adding tomato sauce to your meals. Research shows that when we eat foods containing lycopene, our body converts it into carotenoids, including beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol. These compounds are integral parts of our immune system. They work together to protect our skin, eyes, lungs, heart and circulation.
A slice of pizza contains less calories and cholesterol than most fast food items
If you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t need any more convincing to cut back on burgers, fries and other junk food. What you do want though is a better choice. Pizza is one of the few choices available today that is low in calories and cholesterol, yet still very tasty. One large cheese pizza usually has only 300 calories and 20 mg of cholesterol. Compare that to a McDonald’s Big Mac which has 540 calories and 80mg of cholesterol!
Pizzas also contain a lot of good stuff besides just calories and cholesterol. One of the major components of pizza crusts is gluten – a protein that supports strong bones, muscles and connective tissues. Gluten is also important for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Eating pizza will keep your glucose level steady so that you won’t experience sudden spikes in blood sugar which could result in hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition where glucose levels drop too low.
The same goes for cheese. Cheese is loaded with calcium and magnesium, both essential minerals for proper bone development. Calcium is known to strengthen tooth enamel and promote strong bones while magnesium helps relax nerves and muscles.
Like tomatoes, mushrooms are also great sources of lycopene. Mushrooms are also packed full of B vitamins which play vital roles in energy production and metabolism.
There are plenty more reasons why pizza is beneficial, but now you know enough to order up a fresh slice every time instead of going for the pre-packaged variety.
Pizza is made mostly of carbohydrates, making it a great source of energy
Carbohydrates provide the main source of fuel in the human body. Without carbs, we’d soon run out of gas. Carbs are broken down into simple sugars called monosaccharides. There are three kinds of carbohydrates: complex, intermediate and simple. Complex carbohydrates are long chains of polysaccharide molecules. Examples include cellulose, starch and glycogen. These are stored in the liver and muscle tissue as reserve forms of energy. Simple carbohydrates are short chains of monosaccharide molecules linked together. They break down quickly, usually within half an hour of digestion. Sugars like fructose and lactose fall under this category.
When you consume carbohydrates, they go through two stages of digestion. First, the saliva in your mouth breaks down the sugars into smaller pieces called oligosaccharides. Then, the small intestine absorbs the remaining monosaccharides and turns them into larger molecules called disaccharides and trisaccharides. Each kind of carbohydrate has its own absorption rate.
Simple carbohydrates digest very quickly, usually within 15 minutes of being consumed. That’s because they’re absorbed directly into the bloodstream without having to pass through the digestive tract first. Fructose, for example, is the simplest carb molecule. Its rapid breakdown allows it to reach the bloodstream almost immediately.
Complex carbohydrates are digested much slower. Because of the additional processing step, they give you a longer lasting supply of energy. Cellulose takes longer to digest than fructose, for instance.
Because of their slower release, complex carbohydrates give you a steadier flow of energy over time. Unlike simple carbs, they’re not affected by fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Since they take longer to digest, they also provide a more gradual rise in insulin secretion. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels.
So basically, complex carbohydrates are healthier than simple carbohydrates. If you’re concerned about your health, you’ll definitely want to start incorporating more complex carbs into your diet.
Pizza makes it easy to incorporate veggies and fruits into your meal
Vegetables and fruits make excellent additions to a pizza. Vegetables add color, texture and taste. Fruit adds sweetness, moisture and flavor. Plus, vegetables and fruits contain lots of fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and micronutrients. Micronutrients are substances that act as catalysts, helping chemical reactions occur properly in our body. Phytonutrients are plant pigments that give plants their characteristic colors. Antioxidants neutralize harmful oxygen molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for aging, inflammation, autoimmune disorders and certain cancers. So whether you’re looking to improve your overall health or just maintain your current state, eating more veggies and fruits will certainly help.
Pizza has been around since 1889
Before cooking ovens became commonplace in homes, people used wood burning fires to cook their pies. Today, pizza ovens are similar to traditional wood burning fire pits in appearance. However, they use electricity rather than natural gas or wood.
Pizza dough typically consists of flour, yeast, salt, water and oil. During preparation, the dough is kneaded until elastic and smooth. Afterward, it rises overnight in warm conditions. While rising, the dough is punched down several times. Then it’s divided into sections, placed in individual pans and topped with sauce, cheese, pepperoni, olives, pineapple and sausage. Once ready to bake, pizza is cooked in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.
Toppings vary widely depending on region and preference. Generally speaking, toppings like onions, green peppers, mushrooms, anchovies and artichokes are popular among Italian Americans. Sausages, ham, bacon and salami are common among non-Italian Americans.
Americans spend $7.4 billion dollars per year on pizza alone
American’s love affair with pizza is no secret. According to market research company NPD Group, Americans spent nearly $7.4 billion dollars on pizza in 2007, making it the second largest snacking category behind soda.
Although pizza is delicious, it can also be unhealthy. By choosing lean meats, whole grain crusts and low-fat cheeses, you can enjoy the scrumptiousness of pizza without sacrificing your waistline.

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