How many dishes are so popular that they get a whole night dedicated to them? Yep, we’re talking about pizza night. Pizza is an American staple, and then frozen pizza gave us all another excuse to add this cheesy, carby food to our regular diets. While that’s been a win in terms of quick, easy dinners, it hasn’t been a boon for our health.
Pizza is one of the top sources of saturated fat in Americans’ diets. Saturated fat, of course, is a type of fat that is linked to an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and other health issues when eaten in excess, according to the American Heart Association, and public health officials recommend reducing your intake of this fat when possible.
In the past, you’d be hard-pressed to find a healthy frozen pizza while shopping in the freezer aisle, but things have changed.
“Frozen pizzas have come a long way in the health department. In the past, frozen pizzas were notoriously high in trans fats, other unhealthy fats, sodium, and cholesterol, too—not a great choice for those of us who are trying to support our health,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, of Nutrition Now Counseling and member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board.
Now, there are dozens of healthier options available, from cauliflower crust to thin crust to even chickpea crust! But are all of these “better-for-you” options really better for you?
“While you may be tempted to automatically assume that frozen pizzas that are made with cauliflower or chickpea crust are the healthiest choice, certain varieties may still contain unhealthy trans fats along with the addition of the veggie or the pulse,” says Manaker.
It’s not just that “healthy” frozen pizzas may still be loaded with fats and sodium that make them not the best choice, it’s also that you may not find them as satisfying:
“If you don’t care for the taste of these varieties and are loyal to the classic pizza choice, then don’t force yourself to eat them!” urges Manaker.
So how can you get the best of both worlds? Is there really a pizza that’s both healthy and tastes like the one you love? Yes, yes there is.
The best frozen pizza is…
“While there are many frozen pizza varieties that are extremely good for you and delish, the one I tend to lean on is Alex’s Awesome Sourdough,” says Manaker.
So what makes this pizza so “healthy?” The secret is in the sourdough.
“Sourdough bread, and in this case crust, is lower in phytates: ‘anti-nutrients’ that may reduce the body’s absorption of minerals. With less of them, it increases the mineral absorption ability in the body as compared to your average pizza crust. In other words, when eating sourdough bread, the body may actually utilize more nutrients found in the dough vs. when wheat varieties are eaten,” says Manaker.
Better mineral absorption isn’t the only reason why you should opt for sourdough when possible. It’s also a good option for those managing blood sugar.
“Sourdough bread tends to have a lower glycemic index, helping manage blood sugar levels and helping avoid a blood sugar spike (and inevitable dip),” says Manaker.
But at the end of the day, one of the simplest reasons why Manaker recommends Alex’s Awesome Sourdough as one of the healthiest frozen pizzas you can buy is because it tastes good!
“Most importantly, this pizza doesn’t taste ‘healthy.’ It simply tastes like an awesome pizza that you would enjoy in a restaurant, and eating it helps satisfy your pizza craving in minutes,” says Manaker.
How to shop for a healthy frozen pizza.
While Manaker recommends Alex’s Awesome Sourdough, that isn’t the only healthy pizza option available.
If you want to shop for your own, keep an eye on fats, sodium, and ingredients.
“Ideally, the pizza will be trans fat-free. Thankfully the amount of trans fats that the pizza contains is listed directly on the food label so you don’t have to take your best guess,” says Manaker.
As for toppings, Manaker recommends choosing veggies and chicken over cured meats, like pepperoni, when possible. For some more specific help, check out the 25 Best Healthy Frozen Pizza Pies, According to Dietitians.
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