Disturbing news for pizza lovers: The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans reveal that much of what is in those 46 slices – the per person average of yearly pizza consumption in the United States – is not very healthy.

If You Must Have Pizza:

Choose more of these:

  • Thin, whole grain crust
  • Grilled chicken
  • Part-skim/low-fat cheeses
  • Shrimp
  • Vegetable toppings, like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, olives, broccoli and spinach

Eat less of these:

  • Deep dish or stuffed crust
  • Bacon
  • Extra cheese
  • Extra olive oil
  • Meatballs
  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage

Loaded with saturated and solid fats, sodium nitrites, salt, corn syrup and sugar, pizza, whether topped with pepperoni and sausage or cheese and veggies, embodies everything the Guidelines stress we must reduce in our diets to win the war on obesity and type 2 diabetes. In the U.S., both of these largely preventable conditions are at epidemic proportions.

Fortunately, this situation can be resolved and without the draconian measure of forgoing pizza. According to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), when eaten in moderation, all foods, and that means pizza, are compatible with good health.

This is also the basis for First Lady Michelle Obama’s position, despite questioning, that it was not hypocritical on her part to serve pizza, cheeseburgers and bratwurst at The White House Super Bowl Party. Ending childhood obesity is the focus of her “Let’s Move” initiative, but as she explained, it is “not realistic” to always eat healthy food.

“The problem is when that fun stuff becomes the habit and I think that’s what’s happened in our culture,” Obama said. “Fast food has become the everyday meal and what pediatricians will tell you, that’s causing some huge health issues.”

In other words, go ahead and enjoy that pizza. Just save it for special occasions and don’t pig out when you have it.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]