The Top 10 Healthiest Pizza Toppings
Pizza could very well be the country’s favorite food, but believe it or not, it can be one of the healthiest foods out there. Your typical Meat Lovers Pizza from Pizza Hut isn’t what I’m talking about, though. While you might not find something like this in your typical pizza joint, a whole-wheat crust with a little cheese and a lot of fresh veggies is great for your health.
If you start off with a not-too-greasy hand-tossed or thin crust with a nice layer of fresh tomato sauce and a thin covering of mozzarella, you can build a great meal. A typical white crust isn’t exactly healthy, but it will supply you with much-needed carbs (if you were just out riding for a few hours, that is.) The tomato sauce is full of lycopene and the cheese provides protein and calcium. Just order your pizza with “lite cheese,” which means about half the normal amount. Your taste buds won’t notice, but your heart and arteries will!
Then move on to the toppings, where you want to avoid greasy red meat (unless you’re at a gourmet restaurant with high-quality meats.) There really are many other options out there! Here’s a list of nutritious pizza toppings and why they are good for you:
Onions offer a rich, strong flavor, so they add taste and health benefits to your pizza. The health benefits include lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of colon cancer thanks to the chromium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Olives are full of healthy unsaturated fats that fight heart disease and lower cholesterol. You’ll also be getting some good things known as polyphenols and flavanoids. The fat will also help you absorb the nutrients from your other toppings.
These are similar to green peppers, but with a stronger, sweeter flavor. These are a bit harder to find, but worth looking for since they are chock full of Vitamin C, A, and B6, along with antioxidants like beta-carotene. Whether your peppers are red, yellow, orange, or green, be sure they’re on your pizza!
I don’t see many pizza places offering chopped garlic as a topping, but there’s no harm in asking. If you’re cooking your own pizza, I recommend making a paste out of chopped garlic and olive oil. You can spread that on the crust before you load it down with everything else. Lots of health benefits from garlic, plus the heart-healthy fats you get from olives.
Spinach is Popeye’s topping of choice for a reason. Not only is it loaded with antioxidants, but it’s full of iron, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The iron will build your blood (no EPO necessary) and the lutein and zeaxanthin will protect your eyes from macular degeneration.
One of the few fruits that works on pizza. It contains Vitamin C and an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain will aid digestion, a good thing if you eat as much pizza as I do, and it even acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, easing your aching muscles. If you were just out hammering for 5 hours, pour on the pineapple!
While being neither fruit nor vegetable (mushrooms are actually a fungus,) they add great flavor and great nutrients. They are packed with selenium and riboflavin (and other B vitamins,) along with other nutrients that could ward off cancer.
Sliced tomatoes make great toppings, especially on a white or pesto pizza. Even if you already have tomato sauce on there, adding tomatoes just increases the healthiness.
Another green vegetable that you can get on your pizza. This one is full of Vitamins C, A, and K, along with quite a bit of folate and dietary fiber. Broccoli offers significant anti-cancer effects, and when paired with tomatoes or tomato sauce, the veggies can boost each other’s effects for even better cancer fighting.
For all you meat lovers that can’t resist, get some nice white meat chicken on your pie. It’s full of protein, but not full of saturated fat and sodium like pepperoni. Chicken also has some good stuff like zinc and selenium (to boost your immune system) and essential B vitamins. My personal preference is to find a barbecue chicken pizza, but you can also get chicken as a general topping or find a Hawaiian Chicken Pizza.
There you have it, a lot of good pizza toppings to keep your pie healthy.
Photo credit: Kitay