How to make a pizza compatible with your cholesterol

Pizza and cholesterol don’t mix? You may have heard that pizza is an unhealthy food, high in saturated fat and sodium. So you wonder if it is possible to eat pizza if you watch your cholesterol level. You should know that there are many types of pizzas, with a wide variety of toppings. These can make or break the nutritional quality of the pizza and, therefore, your cholesterol levels. It’s possible to enjoy pizza safely if you watch your cholesterol levels. Here’s how.

Your body needs cholesterol, an essential fat molecule, to survive. It needs cholesterol for many healthy cellular functions, including:

– give structure to your cells
– the production of hormones and vitamin D
– the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K
– facilitate digestion

However, if cholesterol, especially LDL (bad cholesterol), reaches particularly high blood levels, it can increase the risk of heart disease. High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) can increase the risk of plaque buildup inside veins, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Your liver produces some cholesterol, and you can also eat cholesterol from animal sources. Therefore, the cholesterol content of a pizza mostly depends on its animal ingredients: pepperoni, sausage, ham and other meat toppings.

Remember that dietary cholesterol comes from animal food sources. So your pizza’s cholesterol level may vary depending on its animal-derived toppings, including meats like pepperoni, sausage, and ham.

Is it safe to eat pizza if you watch your cholesterol levels?

It’s safe to eat pizza if you have high cholesterol, as long as you keep in mind that not all pizza is the same. For example, pizzas can be divided into two categories: ultra-processed pizzas and authentic Italian-style pizzas, made with fresh ingredients. Ultra-processed foods are defined as industrial multi-ingredient formulations. These include frozen pizzas and fast food pizzas made with other processed foods, such as cured meats and cheese.

Research shows that a high intake of ultra-processed foods is associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and heart disease risk. Additionally, fast foods tend to be higher in calories, higher in saturated fat and salt, and have larger serving sizes than other foods. This increases your overall fat consumption.

On the other hand, the authentic Italian style pizza is made with higher quality ingredients. For example, the Neapolitan pizza is characterized by a soft and thin dough made with wheat flour, yeast, salt and water, prepared with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella, and topped with oregano, basil and garlic. When made with premium ingredients, like fresh tomato sauce, pizza can be a source of antioxidants like lycopene. Lycopene is a pigment found in tomatoes that fights harmful free radicals and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to your cells. Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals to prevent this damage.

Pay attention to the toppings

The choice of toppings can quickly turn a nutritious pizza into a fatty, cholesterol-rich pie. Processed meats are among the most popular animal-based pizza toppings. Studies have linked the consumption of processed meats to an increased risk of heart disease due to the high saturated fat and cholesterol content of these meats. For example, a meta-analysis of 614,062 people found that people who ate 50 grams of processed meat daily had a 42% higher risk of heart disease.

Most people consider cheese to be an essential ingredient in pizza. But since this dairy product contains fat and dietary cholesterol, you may wonder if it might raise your cholesterol levels. Research suggests that although cheese is a source of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, it has little to no effect on your cholesterol levels.

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You can enjoy pizza even if you have high cholesterol. Just be sure to opt for high-quality ingredients and cut down on processed meat toppings.

5 tips for making a healthier pizza for your cholesterol

People love pizza in all its forms, which is why there are countless alternatives and variations that allow almost anyone to enjoy a slice or two, regardless of dietary needs. It is quite easy to reduce the cholesterol content of your pizza.

Here are some tips you can try the next time you crave pizza:

1 Change topping

By replacing processed meats with vegetables, you’ll lower the cholesterol content of pizza while increasing its fiber content. Increasing your fiber intake can help lower your blood cholesterol levels.

2 Try another base

Adding vegetables to your pizza doesn’t have to be limited to toppings. Try replacing flour-based pizza dough with vegetable-based dough. Some popular recipes use cauliflower, broccoli, squash or zucchini.

3 Avoid filled crust pizzas

A slice of stuffed crust pizza can contain up to 13 grams of fat and 35 mg of cholesterol, while a slice of regular crust pizza contains 10 grams of fat and 18 mg of cholesterol.

4 Make your own pizza

Fast foods and some restaurant meals are high in processed meats, fats, cholesterol and sodium and low in fiber and other essential nutrients. Switching to homemade pizza can increase dietary diversity.

5 Opt for a traditional Italian-style pizza.

Authentic Italian-style pizzas are more nutritious than fast food pizzas.

The points to remember to eat a healthy pizza

Replace processed meats with veggies, try a veggie-based crust, avoid top-crust pizzas, and opt for Italian-style pizza or homemade pizza if you’re trying to lower the cholesterol in your pizza.

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* The information and services available on in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. []

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