Is Pizza Health Food?
According to a recent study from (where else?) Italy, pizza intake
may significantly reduce the risk of a second heart attack, even
among people who are overweight smokers who get no exercise.
But before you reach for the phone to cancel your gym
membership and put Domino’s on speed dial, you should know
that pizza really isn’t health food, but one of pizza’s ingredients is.
In the Italian study, about 500 heart attack patients, and about 480
subjects who reported no heart problems, filled out dietary and
lifestyle questionnaires. Researchers found that eating 14 ounces of
pizza each week reduced heart attack risk by well over 50 percent.
But a pizza in Milan is not the same as a pizza in Milwaukee.
Italians generally make their pizza with a thin crust and just a
sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. An entire pizza tops out at about
800 calories. In the U.S., the typical pizza has thick, doughy crust
and quite a bit more cheese. So a Yankee pizza has well over
double the total calories of the Italiano pie.
Nevertheless, both pizzas deliver one key nutrient: lycopene.
(Tomato sauce is rich in lycopene.)
In the e-Alert “Icing the Pizza” (7/30/03), I told you about another
Italian study that showed how pizza intake might reduce cancer
risk. Again, lycopene was most likely responsible for the healthy
As most HSI members are aware, lycopene is a potent antioxidant,
known to offer cancer fighting benefits, as well as protection from
heart disease. And one of the interesting characteristics of lycopene
is that it appears to be better absorbed when it’s heated, and eating
it with fats further helps the absorption.
So the formula to pizza’s remarkable health qualities is suspected
to go something like this: Lycopene + cheese + heat = lower heart
attack and cancer risk.
And it should be noted (and underlined) that in both studies, health
benefits came with a moderate pizza intake; just a couple of slices
I wonder if Domino’s would deliver HALF a pizza?
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute
“Pizza and Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction” European Journal
of Clinical Nutrition, May 2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
“Prevent Heart Attacks – With Pizza?” Maureen Williams, ND,
Healthnotes Newswire, 7/15/04, pccnaturalmarkets.com