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The lean tower of pizza.


Just as Coca-Cola has become a household word from Boston to Beijing, so has pizza. With the recent opening of the first Pizza Hut in Moscow, will Muscovites take to the favorite dish of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the same fervor as they have taken to rock music and blue jeans? Indubitably, as Mr. Durante would say.

Economists estimate that Americans gobble some $15 billion of the chewy, gooey stuff each year--but what is it doing to our health? Well, that depends on your choice of toppings, for it seems the basic ingredients of pizza are (would you believe) just what your friendly neighborhood nutritionist ordered. The crust, cheese and tomato sauce comprise the complex carbohydrates we all need more of, as well as a goodly amount of protein (not to mention nearly a third of the RDA of calcium) and not too much fat, if we go easy on the cheese. This is junk food?!

So what should we eschew as we chew? Well, for openers, hold the pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese--these toppings can double the fat and quadruple the salt in each serving. Instead, go for Canadian bacon (tasty, but lean), or even ham, and pile on veggies like green peppers, mushrooms and onions, all of which provide only a few more calories for a lot of extra taste. As for those fatty, salty anchovies that make the Ninja Turtles scream, "Cowabunga, dude!" let's just say a little goes a long, long way.

What about thick or thin crust? Do I have to give up that fabulous deep-dish sicilian? Not necessarily, since thick crust may make for less fat than thin; also, the thicker the crust, the less one need put on top of it. For example, one ounce of Totino's Sausage Pan Pizza has somewhat less fat than the regular-crust variety, Totino's Party Sausage Pizza. By the same token, Tony's Microwave French Bread Cheese Pizza has half the fat of its regular-crust cheese pizza. If you fill up quicker with fewer slices of thick crust than of regular, go for it.

All this good information may not be of much use to you, given the incredible number of pizza parlors and the variety of their offerings, but at least it might assuage some guilt you may have felt for enjoying pizza. If, however, you can stick to a few varieties and still enjoy it, here are a few suggestions: In the supermarket, Stouffer's Lean Cuisine French Bread and Weight Watchers regular crust are among the least fatty. For takeout or order-in, try Little Caesar's cheese or Domino's cheese or ham. (Don't be fooled by Domino's vegetable pizza, however; its "double" cheese and olives provide extra fat.)
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Title Annotation:pizza can be healthy
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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