We live in a colorful world where we are all different. Everyone likes different kinds of music, clothing, TV shows or what have you. Everyone dreams to become something different than the person who stands right next. The question is: if everyone likes all sorts of different things in life, then why does everyone love pizza?
Oh, pizza! People have a strong emotional attachment to pizza because of experiences they associate with it. It is a comfort food that reminds of family get-togethers and birthday parties. It is a social food. Probably you remember now the last time you were sitting in a restaurant with a friend whom you haven’t seen in two or three years because you live in different continents now. Talking about life, drinking good wine and eating pizza. Almost nothing can compare to moments like these.
Pizza is a treat for special occasions and at the same time an informal food you can literary eat with your hands wherever you are. And because it has always been there with you over the years it has a certain nostalgia to it, like an old friend you can sit down and reminisce with about the old days.
The beauty of pizza is that, no matter what your tastes are, there are so many ways to make it and so many topping possibilities that virtually anyone can create a pizza to suit himself.
It has been there for the best of times, the worst or times and the cheesiest of times. But have you ever wondered what the word pizza actually means? The Vocabolario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana reveals that in etymological terms, pizza comes from the dialectal pinza from the Latin pinsere, which means ‘to pound’ or ‘stamp’. It may have also been derived from the Latin pix, meaning ‘pitch’, or Greek pitta, but other etymologists suggest it is related to the Lombardic word bizzo or pizzo, which means ‘mouthful’, as well as to the English word bite. With no doubt, pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the world today. But pizza also had to go through a long and interesting history before it turned into what we associate it with today.
From pizza with Love: Pizza’s origins
Pizza is one of the most popular and loved food on the planet. In fact, it is so popular that you would think it has been around forever. However, that is not exactly true. The long history of pizza spans centuries and millennia, unifying the countries of Europe and later on different continents and the entire world. Italians are usually credited with the development and spread of pizza around the world. Much of that credit is accurate, but the concept of putting stuff on hot bread probably dates back to the days of cavemen. The actual pizza probably made its debut in ancient Greece. The Greeks baked round flatbreads (similar to what we know as foccacia bread) that they put on spices, seasonings, oils and other toppings.
Pizza, in its meaning as ‘pie’, was coined sometime around A.D. 1000 near Rome and Naples, Italy. In the 18th century, flatbread pizza became a popular food. An interesting fact is that it was considered a low-cost meal for the peasant population in Naples. People were just beginning to realize that tomatoes, which had been brought over from the New World in the 16th century, were actually not poisonous. Surprise! By the end of the 18th century, the residents of Naples began to top the bread with tomatoes, essentially creating pizza as we know it now. Street vendors sold the dish in the poor areas of Naples before the opening of the world's first pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, in 1830. Today, you can find and buy pizza from the very same spot.
Love can be healthy: Pizza at its best!
When it comes to the world of culinary achievements, pizza takes the cake or, in this case, the pie, every time. Pizza is probably one of these foods that hold a special place in pretty much everyone's hearts. And how can you not love these divinely delicious triangles? Pizza is the epitome of a perfect snack, and at the same time an easy-to-go food, loved by people of all ages. It combines a crispy crust that is drenched in savory sauce and concealed underneath a mountain of melty, gooey mozzarella cheese. No matter if it is about a home delivery, bake at home or just an ordinary visit of your favorite restaurant, pizza fits just about any occasion. But while an occasional indulgence in commercial pizza is absolutely fine, if it is a regular feature in your diet, you may want to know more about its effect when it comes to your body and health.
Now, the truth is that pizza has not always had a good reputation. Probably many people you know associate this food with grease and high calories, and will not eat it if they are on a diet. There are also some who classify it as comfort food or just something quick to grab for dinner when they are in a hurry, simply said, junk food. But let’s put deliciousness aside for a moment. What many people do not know is that sometimes, pizza can actually be good for you. Yes, it can! Are you now curious to know how that is possible?
Remember, you can control the ingredients!
It is hard to eat healthily all the time. If you auto-dial your local pizza place once a week, you are not alone. But do not worry. As the dietician Keri Gans says “The right toppings can transform this fattening grease bomb into a healthy meal.” Always keep in mind that no matter if you make this meal yourself or order it from your favorite pizza restaurant, you control which ingredients will be served at the end. You can ask the pizza place for the exact ingredients you want and also specify if you would like them in larger or smaller amounts. The combinations are limitless, and you can combine any fruits, vegetables, or meats found on the menu. Do not forget to ask about crust options to make sure your pizza is still nutritious. Jackpot!
Better think thin!
You can receive a lot of health benefits when you choose the right ingredients for your pizza. Ordering a thin crust for example helps decrease the amount of empty calories you could gain from this meal. Also, eating less crust allows you to consume a larger amount of healthier ingredients, because you will not be full on carbs. And why not even eat two pizzas instead of only one? Mathematics at its best!
Think smart: nutritious ingredients
There is no need to add anything more to your meal to cover the recommended intake of all food groups. With one pizza, you can take your daily dose of vegetables, even fruits (of course, depending on your choice), lean meats, dairy, and grain at the same time. You can always add more tomatoes to increase your fruit intake, and red peppers to add more vegetables to your diet.
What about the protein?
If you enjoy meat, then you would probably like to have it on your pizza as well, but this is totally okay, since that way your meal will have a large dose of protein. Your body uses protein to function and eating enough will boost your energy. Toppings like lean ground beef and chicken rather than fattier options like pepperoni will help you avoid fat and sodium.
Vegetable toppings are a great source of fiber, which is an essential part of your daily diet. Fiber promotes digestive health and reduces the risk of heart disease. Increase the amount of veggies on your pizza to get the added health benefits of fiber. Tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers are great choices. Some vegetables that are fried or roasted are cooked in oil, so you may want to consider avoiding those toppings as well and choose the raw vegetables instead. Go fresh!
One of the most common ingredients on pizzas is cheese. The calcium you receive from eating cheese can help you build strong bones. Moreover, cheese also contains protein, which helps to build muscle. Despite these health benefits, many pizzas contain a large amount of cheese, which increases your intake of saturated fats. Mozzarella, the most common type of cheese on pizza, is usually made using part-skim milk. This cheese has less saturated fat, but still contains protein and calcium. So, the cheese will cover your dairy intake, while the crust provides your daily grain intake.
Pizza sauce can boost your immunity!
Did you know that the sauce on a pizza is loaded with Vitamin C? Your body needs this nutrient to fight against germs that can cause illnesses like the common cold for example. In case oregano is included in the sauce, it will increase your immunity even more. Carvacrol, which is the active ingredient in oregano, can help keep your liver healthy and balance your blood sugar as well. And this is only the beginning! Another health benefit you can get from eating pizza comes from the lycopene-rich tomato sauce. Studies have found lycopene may protect against developing prostate cancer. So great news in case you are a guy!
Pizza gives your brain a boost!
Would you be surprised to know that not only pizza can help you avoid that unpleasant winter cold, but can also make your brain works faster and better? Spinach, often a chosen ingredient as a pizza topping, is high in folate. This vitamin promotes blood circulation in your brain. Consuming one daily serving of spinach can slow down cognitive decline in the elderly because it also contains vitamin K. This food can also affect your serotonin levels, which directly influence positive and negative emotions. If your favorite pizza delivery restaurant does not serve spinach, try adding it yourself when your meal arrives. Waiting to add this topping can help keep it fresh. Pineapple, spinach, and the milk found in cheese are all serotonin boosters, which means that pizza can help you be healthy and happy.
Turn up the heat with spices
Try boosting your metabolism by adding a bit of spice to your pizza. Canadian researchers have discovered that men who eat spicy appetizers actually consume fewer calories than those skipping hot foods. If your stomach allows you to, top your pizza with some fresh black pepper or red chili flakes to enhance taste and increase the health benefits of your meal.
Can pizza be a healthier breakfast choice than cereal?
As many people say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Missing it or eating the wrong foods in the morning can affect the way your metabolism works, as well as your focus and energy. As usual, each person has its own ritual in the morning when it comes to breakfast. Anyone who has eaten cold pizza the morning after a messy or lazy night can attest to the fact that pizza just tastes better the next day. But the question here is if it is doing your insides any favors?
However, a big percentage of people love starting their day with a bowl of some kind of healthy-sounding cereal. The thing is that these cereals actually consist of a lot of sugar and this can lead to a crash later in the day. More than that, it turns out that foods like cereal which lack the proper fuel your mind and body need to kickstart the day. According to nutritionists, a healthy meal any time of day includes a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Unfortunately, cereals do not include all of that. Conveniently, guess which food checks all the boxes? Pizza of course! Despite the fact that pizza is not the healthiest form of carbohydrates, protein and fat, it does contain, however, all three of these important nutrients to keep you and your body full and satisfied. Plus, you get bonus points for topping with extra vegetables of your choice!
Once again, not all pizzas are created equal, nor is all breakfast cereal. If you are comparing a bowl filled with sugar flakes and whole milk to a slice of garlic and onion pizza on a thin, whole wheat crust, then the pizza is definitely going to be the healthier option. This is what nutritionists have found recently. For example, a single serving of cereal (again, it depends on the bowl size) contains approximately 110 calories, 0 grams of fat. and at least 15 grams of sugar. Keep in mind that this may not seem a lot, but most people eat up to 132 percent more than a single serving. That makes more than 220 calories and more than 30 grams of sugar. The calories add up really quickly and you are hungry before you know it. You can have one portion of cereal and be adding hundreds of calories to your day, so swapping this for a lovely slice of Italy's finest could be the protein injection needed for the day ahead.
Meanwhile, a slice of pizza with cheese and without meat, contains around 252 calories, 12 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and 4 grams of sugar! Considering these numbers, eating pizza instead of cereal for breakfast may be a good choice. It definitely has much more essential fats and proteins, and fewer grams of sugar. Depending on the pizza, you can also get your body all the important food groups with one slice of pizza – grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as meat.
So, next time you wake up and you are already late but still hungry, and you see last night's pizza box thinking whether it will be a bowl of coco pops or a nice slice of your favorite thing, what will it be? – remember, pizza! Every time.