Can Pizza Be Good For You?

Margherita pizza about to get baked in marra forni rotator brick oven

Pizza is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when people are trying to “get healthy.” March is National Nutrition Month and with the increased focus on health, many Americans are giving up their favorite “guilty pleasure.” How can pizza, a food most Americans associate with fast-food or junk food, be part of a healthy meal plan you might be wondering? Well, the answer is simple – to make pizza healthful, it must be prepared according to traditional methods and using the best ingredients. What often gets called “pizza” in the US (where more “pizza” is eaten per capita than in Italy) is very different from what earns the title “Vera Pizza Napoletana” in Naples.

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana Official Logo

The Neapolitan version is such an important institution in its’ birthplace that UNESCO just granted authentic Neapolitan pizza a place on its cultural heritage list last year. According to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, in 1984 Antonio Pace and Lello Surace reunited the most important and famous pizza makers of the time to write down the fundamental rules in order to recognize and differentiate the True Neapolitan Pizza from the other type of pizza, giving it the maximum dignity. Following the guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, you are guaranteed that a single serving of pizza is considered to be a complete meal because it supplies an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. An Authentic Pizza Napoletana weighs about 10 ounces (thanks to special leavening procedures and is made up of approximately 50% carbohydrates, 6% fat, 5.5% protein, and is about 800 calories.

Hand Pours extra virgin olive oil on freshly baked margherita pizza

Another important factor to consider is that not all ingredients are created equal. The authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe calls for specific types of water, flour, yeast, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, tomatoes, and mozzarella to be used in addition to the preparation techniques. Each of these ingredients ensures maximum flavor, nutrients, and quality. For example, the water used must be clean and non-carbonated. It must also be free of microorganisms, parasites or chemical substances that represent a health risk. Water must be fit for human consumption and have a pH level of 6-7 ·

red pizza hand peel covered in flour next to ball of pizza dough

The 00 Flour used in authentic pizza-making provides carbohydrates for energy, minerals and B- vitamins as well as protein. We recommend Caputo and Cinque Stagioni flours. The Bakers Yeast used in authentic pizza-making is a strain of yeast used in the baking industry of bread production which produces large amounts of carbon dioxide and is made by adding water to molasses. This yeast yields Beta Glucans (1-3) which support immunity.

red star and lesaffre yeast and ferrarelle and le 5 stagioni and grande cheese company products on table

Certified mozzarella cheese, either buffalo or cow’s milk must both be used in authentic pizza-making. While the buffalo milk is richer, and higher in fat, both contain protein and calcium with relatively low levels of cholesterol and sodium. The fresh tomatoes used must be of the “S.Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-nocerino D.O.P”., “Pomodorini di Corbara (Corbarino)”, or “Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio” D.O.P.” varieties. These tomatoes are rich lycopene- a precious anti-oxidant that give the fruit its red color.

red tomato cut into a bunch

Only extra-virgin olive oil can be used in authentic pizza-making. Its’ health benefits include:

•preventing the formation of blood clots

•lowering total blood cholesterol

•boosting the immune system against the negative effects of toxins, microorganisms, parasites, and other

•can improve calcium absorption in the body and prevent osteoporosis

•may prevent memory loss may lead to less risk of rheumatoid arthritis

• can protect against malignant tumors

•reduces the risk of breast, colon, and bowel cancer and the incidence of melanoma

By making a commitment to using the finest ingredients available, respecting the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’s rules, pizzerie can serve up pies that are as mouthwatering to eat as they are good for you. We are proud to be the only AVPN supplier of brick ovens outside of Italy, and are glad collaborate with all of our partners to ensure that the art of authentic pizza-making is preserved.

Amy Riolo, Author


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