Whether you’re looking for an easy family dinner or a possible hangover cure, pizza is a popular favourite among Canadians – but it’s not exactly the healthiest choice. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by Megan Ogilvie, health reporter and author of Menu Confidential. They take a look at five popular restaurant chains and reveal which one makes the least healthy pepperoni pizza.
“[Pizza] is one of those foods that is really hard to stop eating at just one slice,” says Megan. “If you have a smallish piece every once in awhile, it can easily fit into a healthy diet, but it’s really easy to call up the delivery guy and the pizza come to your door. Stop trying at one? Not many of us do.”
Pizza Hut (Least healthy option: 1 slice (81 g), 270 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 310 mg sodium)
“It’s kind of a nice crust,” says Megan after taking a bite. “It’s not too crisp.”
“I feel like there’s a lot more dough and very little sauce to it compared to other pizza normally,” comments Andrea.
According to Pizza Hut’s nutritional information, their pizza slices are the smallest of the five brands tested, but one slice has the most calories and most fat.
Pizza Pizza (Andrea’s favourite: 1 slice (97 g), 210 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium)
“It has kind of a smoky flavour,” Megan says. “I can really taste the meat in this one.”
“Just saucy and the pepperoni has a good taste,” agrees Andrea. “Not too much crust.”
This tried and tested pepperoni pizza came away as Andrea’s favourite of the bunch.
“It was just the sauciest, and I like that in a pizza,” she explains.
While not the least healthy option, Megan notes that the Pizza Pizza slice is one of the highest when it comes to sodium.
Domino’s (1 slice (89.3 g), 204.7 calories, 7.6 g fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 453.5 mg sodium)
“A lot of dough in this one,” notices Andrea.
“A bunch of it, yeah,” agrees Megan. “I was going to say dough – I don’t taste the pepperoni or the sauce.”
241 Pizza (1 slice (96 g), 230 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium)
“Definitely good pepperoni taste in this,” Andrea says.
“It feels substantial,” Megan says. “There’s cheese, there’s sauce and there’s bread.”
Megan reveals that while this pizza isn’t the worst for you, it also has a high amount of sodium.
Boston Pizza (Healthiest option and Megan’s favourite: 1 slice (87 g), 160 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 420 mg sodium)
“It has kind of a sweet sauce,” Megan comments.
“Very tomato-y, “ says Andrea.
“Not as spicy, and the crust seems a bit crisper,” Megan continues. “It’s got a nice golden colour on it.”
This pizza won over Megan when it came to taste.
“It had more of a pizza taste, not just the pepperoni,” she explains. “It was smoky and sweet, and the sauce the crust was crisp.”
The health expert also revealed that although most of the pizzas are similar health-wise, this one has the fewest calories.
Making your pizza healthier
While a slice of pizza can be full of calories, fat and sodium, there are ways to make it healthier.
“A great thing about pizza, both taste-wise and calorie-wise is that you can customize it. So if you order a thin crust on a medium pizza, you’re going to save 300-400 calories,” Megan reveals. “Always go with marinara sauce – it’s going to be the least calorie option, and you’ll get a dose of vegetables.”
“People won’t like me saying this,” she continues, “but you should probably skip the pepperoni. If you can’t do it every time, maybe every other time. Just consider that five pieces of pepperoni has the same amount of fat as an apple fritter, and about a quarter of a day’s worth of salt. Another thing you can do is order half the regular amount of cheese to cut about 200 calories and 10 grams of fat.”
Megan also recommends staying away from dipping sauces, which can add an extra 350+ calories to your meal.
And of course, there’s always the option of making your pizza at home.
“It can be really fast, just as fast as ordering a delivery pizza,” Megan says. “You can use a whole grain tortilla or a whole grain pita as the base and then add some marinara sauce, a scattering of grated cheese and a lot of veggies, and you’re going to do way healthier than any of these pepperoni pizzas.”
What is your go-to place for pizza? Or do you prefer to make your pie at home? Let us know in the comments.