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Your pepperoni pizza contains added harmful preservatives.
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Thin or thick crust, meat, veggies or plain cheese, you can choose a pizza with a variety of toppings to fit any palate. However, popping a frozen pizza into the oven or ordering a pizza may not be good for your heart or your waistline. Frozen and fast-food pizzas can be junk food because they typically contain ingredients that are low in nutrients and high in fat, sodium and even sugar. Choosing the right ingredients for your pizza base and toppings can make a difference to your health.
Pizza bases are typically made from white flour dough. White, refined grains are made by stripping away the outer husk or shell, which is the portion that contains essential dietary fiber and key nutrients. This means that white flour contains more starchy or sugary carbohydrates and very little fiber, minerals and vitamins. Refined products that are enriched may have some of the minerals and vitamins added back in, but are still low in fiber. MayoClinic.com notes that half the grain products such as bread and pizza that you eat, should be made from whole grains. Fiber is important for healthy digestion and to help lower high blood cholesterol levels.
A pizza wouldn't be a pizza without cheese on it, and many varieties are topped with plenty of hot, chewy cheese. Cheese and other dairy products contain protein and bone-building nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus. However, natural cheeses such as cheddar are up to 40 percent fat, while harder cheeses have even more fat than soft cheese. Additionally, many cheeses are high in sodium with more than 400 milligrams in one serving. Consuming excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney damage.
Meat pizzas are typically topped with pepperoni, processed sausages or bacon. MayoClinic.com warns that these processed meats contain sodium nitrate, a preservative that can raise your risk of heart disease and damage your blood vessels. This artificial additive may also affect how your body uses sugar, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Pepperoni and other processed meats are also high in sodium and artificial coloring.
You can still enjoy a pizza as part of a healthy, balanced diet -- and even regularly, if your pizza is made with nutritious ingredients. Make the base whole grain or use whole-wheat flatbread for a convenient short cut. Top your pizza with plenty of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms. If you like meat toppings, choose grilled chicken or lean beef rather than processed meats such as bacon. Sprinkle your pizza with low-fat cheese, which is only up to 15 percent fat. Also, make your own pizza sauce with tomato paste instead of using bottled sauce, which contains added salt and sugar.