The healthiest ways to enjoy National Pizza Month
SUMMARY: October is National Pizza Month. Discover the best options for a healthy mouth!
Posted: October 22, 2013
October is National Pizza Month. Most of us may not need a designation for pizza, since we devour slices throughout the year. In fact, 94 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. On the whole, that's equivalent to gorging on 350 slices per second, or 100 acres of pizza per day.
Still, October is a great time to delight in our favorite pies. However, what does it mean for our teeth? There are about 63,000 pizzerias across the country, so you can certainly find a shop that serves more nutritious ingredients. Keep in mind that oral health and overall health are one and the same - what you eat affects your teeth and gums, but it also influences your heart, arteries and entire well-being.
Let's go through the parts of the pie to check out the best options.
Opt for whole-grain crust. Whole grains are rich in fiber, meaning you'll feel fuller and won't need to eat as much 'zza. Crust is your chance to minimize carbohydrates, which consist of sugars and starches that turn into acids when combined with the natural bacteria in your mouth. These acids, food debris and bacteria form dental plaque. That yellowish stuff you find near the gum pocket clings to your pearlies and wears down the enamel surface to create holes in the teeth, what we know as cavities.
Pan crust is far and away the worst for you, adding up to 1,000 calories to your meal. Sorry Chicagoans, even the "individual" size deep-dish pie is loaded with enough fat and calories to serve three people. In short, thin crust is your new best friend.
Despite being high in antioxidants, tomato sauce is an acidic food known for eroding the enamel of your teeth. Don't let the pizza sauce stay in your mouth too long after eating, because the longer it lingers, the more time it has to become a culprit of tooth decay. Some easy solutions? Swish around water in your mouth after eating. This helps wash down tomato sauce remnants and other stray food particles from the teeth and gum line. Also, chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol for five minutes after eating has been shown to improve oral hygiene.
No pizza is complete without the cheese. However, when you load up on the gooey stuff, you're bound to be bathing in grease. Keep it simple with a single layer of cheese - it could even be good for you! According to a study published in Journal Obesity Research, both men and women who lowered calories but added dairy foods high in calcium in their diet lost 70 percent more weight over two years than people who only dieted.
Pepperoni may be a crowd favorite, but there are plenty of healthier options for you and your mouth. If you're craving meat, try out Canadian bacon, which has one-third of the calories and 60 percent less fat than regular bacon. However, both are equally high in sodium.
It's no surprise that veggie pizza is hands-down the best choice for National Pizza Month. If you can, order a Mediterranean pie - spinach is considered one of the healthiest foods, as its rich in iron, folate?, and flavonoids, or antioxidants. Yellow peppers throw in a sweet flavor and vitamin C, while on the nutrition scale, goat cheese beats out cheese made from cow's milk. Dairy products from goats generally contain less calories and percentages of fat. Grilled eggplant, fresh basil, artichokes and blue cheese are also excellent options for adding flavor that won't wreck your teeth.