Pizza – Actually Good for You?

Do you remember this old TV commercial?

“Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time! With pizza on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime!”

Not a bad idea (I’m talking pizza any time, not necessarily on a bagel), right? Pizza can make a very healthy addition to any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’m here to tell you that pizza is your friend.

We dietitians love to preach moderation, and for good reason. While it is important to eat nutritiously, it is equally important to enjoy what we eat. There are no “bad” foods when you let moderation be your guide.

So what does moderation look like? In a word: MyPlate

Pizza - Actually Good for You?

As you can see, you have all the food groups (i.e., variety) in the correct proportions (i.e., moderation), or as I like to describe it: VARIETY + MODERATION = BALANCE.

So where does pizza fit into the puzzle? Pizza boasts not one, not two, but THREE food groups:

  • Dairy (cheese)
  • Veggies (your favorite vegetable toppings, tomato sauce)
  • Grains (crust)

Simply add a lean protein such as chicken for a topping (though this is optional – not necessary – since the cheese already gives you a good amount) and fruit for a side, and you have the perfect MyPlate. For an added veggie boost, opt for extra veggie toppings or a side salad.

Limit yourself to 1-2 slices and you just turned your guilty pleasure into a balanced meal, with leftovers to boot (breakfast pizza, anyone?)! If you are looking to really amp up the nutrient power of your pizza, DIY from scratch by making a pizza with a whole grain crust and part-skim mozzarella cheese. For a fun twist, use a whole grain English muffin or corn tortilla for the crust.

Pizza - Actually Good for You?

If you're looking to make your own pizza at home, try one of my faves:

As it turns out, you really can have your pizza and eat it too!

By Jenna Allen, M.S., RDN

Jenna is a registered dietitian with a passion for communicating science in an approachable way. She has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2008. When she isn't working, Jenna is trying out new recipes with her three kids and working on her food photography. Learn more about Jenna.

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