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Why Is Pizza Junk Food?

Americans eat an average of 46 slices of pizza per person each year, according to MayoClinic.com. While pizza can be healthy if you make it the right way, most of the pizza you buy counts as junk food because of the high amount of refined carbohydrates, fat and sodium it contains.

Refined Carbohydrates

Pizza crust is typically made with refined flour, which is flour made from grains that have had their germ and bran removed. This lowers the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals in the flour, making it less nutritious. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting consumption of refined grains and getting at least half of your grain servings each day from whole grains. Eating refined grains like those found in pizza increases your risk for abdominal fat, including the more risky type of abdominal fat called visceral abdominal fat, according to a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in November 2010. Visceral abdominal fat increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer, according to Harvard Medical School.

Fat Content

The cheese on pizza is high in saturated fat, which increases your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. Each 5-ounce serving of cheese pizza contains 18.5 grams of fat, or 28 percent of the daily value for fat. Saturated fat makes up about 6.5 grams of this fat, or 33 percent of the DV. Adding meat to your pizza will increase the fat and saturated fat in your pizza, as meat is another major source of saturated fat.

Sodium Content

Consuming too much sodium could increase your risk for high blood pressure. The average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of salt each day instead of staying within the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams. A 5-ounce slice of cheese pizza contains 675 milligrams of sodium, or 29 percent of your recommended salt for the day.


Cooking your pizza yourself allows you to control the ingredients and make it healthier. Make a whole-grain thin crust and top it with a low-sodium tomato-based sauce along with a small amount of low-fat cheese and a large amount of vegetables. When ordering out, skip the extra cheese and fatty sausage and pepperoni. Instead, ask for a whole-grain thin crust and extra vegetables.

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