A frozen pizza is great if you need a meal in a jiffy. But is it good for you?
Frozen pizza is considered by many to be unhealthy because it is high in salt and fat. Frozen pizza is also an ultra-processed food, which means it is high in additives.
Eating frozen pizza occasionally is okay, but how much is too much? Read on to find out!
Is Frozen Pizza Bad for You?
Frozen pizza is generally considered unhealthy because it contains a lot of salt and fat. Consuming too much fat and salt has been linked to a number of health concerns, including organ damage and cancer.
Moreover, frozen pizza is an ultra-processed food, which means it is processed several times for industrial purposes. Ultra-processed foods contain high levels of additives.
Another risk that comes with frozen pizza is contamination. In August 2022, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a recall for the frozen pizza brand Home Run Inn Chicago’s Premium Pizzeria Deluxe Sausage Classic Pizza.
The pizzas were recalled because of complaints that they contained metal. There were no injuries or side effects that were reported. FSIS advised consumers not to eat the pizza, and retailers not to distribute it (source: USDA).
Most frozen pizzas are not cooked or pre-cooked. This is why you need to thoroughly cook them according to package instructions. Many common ingredients, including raw flour, meat, cheese, vegetables, and sauce could be contaminated.
Is Frozen Pizza High in Sodium?
Generally, processed foods are known to be high in dietary sodium, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases if left unchecked. Frozen pizza is no exception.
Sodium is a good preservative, which is why some manufacturers increase the salt content to better preserve the pizza.
According to a study in Europe, frozen pizza has one of the highest sodium content levels of any prepackaged food. In fact, it’s third on the list, with an average of 799 mg/100 g (source: Nutrients).
A slice of pizza weighing 150 g contains around 1,198.5 g of sodium. The limit for sodium for adults is less than 2,300 mg per day (source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans). This means that two slices of frozen pizza will supply your sodium intake for the day.
Too much sodium can aggravate the heart and blood vessels. It can also negatively affect the kidneys, brain, and other organs in the body (source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology).
Here are some popular brands and their sodium content per serving:
- Bessie’s Revenge Cheese Screamin’Sicilian: 720 mg
- Red Baron Brick Oven Crust Cheese Trio Pizza: 720 mg
- DiGiorno Original Rising Crust Four Cheese Pizza: 700 mg
- Trader Giotto’s Pizza 4 Formaggi: 870 mg
- Amy’s Kitchen Cheese Pizza: 590 mg
- Elio’s Cheese Pizza: 610 mg
Is Frozen Pizza High in Cholesterol?
Around 38% of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol is defined as a cholesterol level that is equal to or greater than 200 mg/dL (source: CDC).
The liver produces enough cholesterol for the body. When we eat foods with cholesterol and surpass the recommended limit, this becomes a problem.
Currently, there is no literature on frozen pizzas being high in cholesterol. There are, however, some that state frozen pizzas are high in saturated and trans fats.
These fats can cause the liver to create too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, than our bodies need.
According to a study, a sampled frozen pizza has 14.49% saturated fatty acids, 16.45% mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and 0.14% trans-fatty acids. A slice contains around 300 mg or more of trans fatty acids.
While trans fats make it possible to have a flaky crust, they are not good for health (source: The Pharma Innovation Journal).
If your frozen pizza also contains processed meat like pepperoni, salami, ham, or cheese, it will be even more likely to contain too much cholesterol.
Saturated fats, trans fats, and too much cholesterol can raise total blood cholesterol. They can also clog blood vessels, which can lead to other conditions. Because of this, it’s best to avoid frozen pizza if you are watching your cholesterol levels.
Is Frozen Pizza Healthier than Fast Food?
The fact that you can microwave, bake, or cook frozen pizza at home doesn’t make it healthier than fast food.
Frozen pizza has high levels of refined sugar, fats, and salt (source: The Pharma Innovation Journal). It also contains preservatives to prevent spoilage.
There are so-called “healthier” pizzas available that use cauliflower instead of flour for the dough and vegetable toppings instead of meat toppings. But if your cauliflower-based pizza contains pepperoni and cheese, it’s probably not a healthy choice.
Is Frozen Pizza Considered a Processed or Ultra-Processed Food?
Ultra-processed foods contain more additives compared to naturally processed or whole foods. Processed foods are also industrially processed, but the additives and methods aren’t as extreme compared to ultra-processed foods (source: Public Health Nutrition).
In conclusion, it’s okay to eat frozen pizza from time to time. But we recommend not consuming it regularly, especially if you’re watching your sodium and cholesterol levels.