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Pizza: good or evil?

As a college student, I would say pizza is a staple food. Pizza places seem to be the only places open when you want it the most, which is the best coincidence when it comes to getting the munchies. When you finally get this pie you waited 15 whole minutes for, you open the box, breathe in the aroma, and realize it is probably a bad idea to eat it all up. Regardless, you devour it anyway because you’re young, you are able to do this without immediate repercussions, and most importantly, you really want this pizza. But it can’t be all that bad, can it? And you did put onions and peppers or some green stuff so it’s somewhat healthy, right?

Not exactly. Let’s debunk this pizza conundrum, shall we?

Let’s break the standard pizza down into its constituents. You have:
– Dough

– Marinara sauce
– Cheese
– Oil/herbs
– Toppings

Now that you have what it takes to make a pizza, what about it makes it so unhealthy? Well, the dough is typically made from white flour and can definitely pack on the carbs on top of the multitude of cheese used (I mean there is a layer of cheese that gives the pizza its distinctive look) and on top of the carbs and calories there is usually more than enough oil used and a high sodium count … yeesh. With this being said, there are still plenty of options to avoid this health catastrophe.

I remember one time “back in the day” I ate a small slice of cheese pizza a few hours before doing blood work (without informing the nurse I was not fasting – I don’t even think I knew what that word meant at the time). When the results came in, my parents asked if I felt OK. In other words, they were wondering why I didn’t need to go to the hospital because my triglyceride (fat in the blood) count shot up to about 800 mg/dL which  is exceeding the charts. Normally, your triglycerides should be no more than 150 mg/dL! One tiny slice of plain cheese pizza shoots up your lipid level in the blood by that much? Ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pizza and I hate how others always discourage the fact that I would eat a whole pie all to myself (I am 5’2” and at a healthy BMI, to put things into perspective) and am a pre-diabetic, but when it comes to eating bad food it will always affect you later in your life, no matter how much you deny that. So let’s eat smarter and avoid heart problems and other chronic illnesses down the road, OK?

Here are alternative options you can try out:
1. Request less cheese on the pizza. It will probably taste the same in the end anyway, so why not?

2. The more toppings you put on the pizza that aren’t carb-filled, the less cheese will be put to fill in the gaps and you will slash a ton of calories that way.
3. Some pizza places can make the dough out of whole wheat or fill it with protein rather than give you the loaded carbohydrates.
4. Order a thin pizza rather than a hand-tossed or deep dish thick pizza so that can also pare down the amount of dough used/consumed.

As much as I would love to ignore the negative consequences for those few minutes of indulgence, I would much rather be the glutton I am and eat as much pizza as I want (in moderation of course) and only worry about the impending stomachache.

And it’s always okay to cheat every once in a while.

Would you like to feed your own body good fuel or bad fuel? The choice is yours. Happy eating!

February 27, 2012

Reporters

Catherine Wong


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