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Here's why pizza is considered junk food

Pizza typically contains ingredients that are low in nutrients but high in fat with high amounts of refined carbohydrates, sodium and sugar. And by 'typically', we mean pizza that is bought from fast food restaurants, which it is safe to say accounts for most pizzas consumed in this country.

Pizza junk food

Homemade pizza can be different though. It is all about ingredients, really. If the base is made from whole grain instead of refined grain, then that is a good start. You can top your pizza with plenty of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms. And instead of processed meats like bacon and pepperoni, choose grilled chicken or lean beef. And instead of using bottled sauce, you can make your own pizza sauce with tomato paste instead.

Compare that to commercially available pizzas, and the story in different. Here is why most pizza is considered junk food:

Pizza bases are typically made from white flour dough. Refined grains are made by stripping away the outer husk or shell, which is the portion that contains essential dietary fiber and key nutrients. This means that white flour contains more starchy or sugary carbohydrates and very little fiber, minerals and vitamins. Refined products that are enriched may have some of the minerals and vitamins added back in, but are still low in fiber.

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Most pizzas are topped with plenty of hot, chewy cheese. Some of these cheeses are up to 40 percent fat, while harder cheeses have even more fat than soft cheese. Additionally, many cheeses are high in sodium with more than 400 milligrams in one serving. Consuming excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney damage.

Meat pizzas are typically topped with pepperoni, processed sausages or bacon. Experts warn that these processed meats contain sodium nitrate, a preservative that can raise your risk of heart disease and damage your blood vessels. This artificial additive may also affect how your body uses sugar, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Pepperoni and other processed meats are also high in sodium and artificial coloring.

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