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A Healthy Alternative to Pepperoni Pizza

by
author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
A Healthy Alternative to Pepperoni Pizza
A pepperoni pizza sits on a stand in a pizza store's glass counter. Photo Credit DanHenson1/iStock/Getty Images

You might eat pepperoni pizza at parties, casual lunches and relaxed family dinners, but frequent consumption can be unhealthy. Pizza is the fifth greatest source of calories in the typical American diet, as well as a top source of sodium and saturated fat, according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010," and topping your pizza with pepperoni makes it less healthy. Alternatives to pepperoni pizza can be more nutritious and satisfy your desire for pizza.

Start With a Good Base

Ordering a thin crust instead of regular saves you 52 calories per slice. A slice of thin-crust pepperoni pizza has 261 calories, while a regular-crust pizza has 313 calories per slice. Order a whole-wheat crust to increase the dietary fiber content of your pizza. If you are making your own pizza, use a whole-grain tortilla or pita or whole-grain English muffin or bagel halves. You can also skip the bread and make pizza on a portabella mushroom or slices of grilled eggplant.

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Pile on the Low-Calorie Toppings

Instead of depending on pepperoni for character, double the pizza sauce, and add basil, garlic and onion for more flavor without many calories. Top your pizza with a variety of vegetables to make the pizza bigger and more nutritious. Traditional choices include diced tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, red and green bell peppers, eggplant and artichoke hearts. You can also add fruit, such as pear slices or diced pineapple. To save more calories and fat, and to add flavor to compensate for lack of pepperoni, cut back on the mozzarella cheese and use a small amount of flavorful cheese, such as shredded Parmesan.

Substitute for Pepperoni

A single ounce of pepperoni contains 138 calories and 12 grams of fat, including 4 grams of unhealthy saturated fat, which raises levels of your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, and increases your risk for heart disease. It also has 493 milligrams of sodium, which raises blood pressure. Healthy adults should get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Leaner, lower-sodium protein options include grilled chicken breast and lean ground turkey.

Nonpizza Alternatives

Pasta can be an alternative to pepperoni pizza if you want a quick Italian meal. Use whole-grain pasta, low-sugar tomato sauce, plenty of vegetables and a source of lean protein, such as grilled chicken or shrimp. Add mixed Italian spices or fresh herbs, such as oregano and basil. An alternative to pizza as a party option is submarine sandwiches. Use whole-wheat bread, lean turkey breast, low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mustard for sandwiches to share with guests. A 6-inch roast beef submarine sandwich with lettuce and tomato has 296 calories and 5 grams of fat.

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References

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