Washington, Nov. 1: Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University have turned unhealthy pizzas into an ideal nutritious meal by developing a range of new pizza recipes, each containing 30 percent of all the nutrients required in a day.
To demonstrate that pizza can be reformulated to make it the basis of a fully nutritionally-balanced meal and to ascertain the nutritional content and quality of contemporary pizzas, a team of scientists analysed a total of 25 Margarita pizzas.
They varied widely in calorie content, ranging from 200 to 562kcal. Few approached the 600kcal energy requirement that would make it a proper meal, so people may tend to eat something extra.
Perhaps surprisingly only six of 25 pizzas tested contained too much total fat (>35 percent total energy), with eight having too much saturated fat while only two boasting a desirable level (<11 percent total energy). Most of the fat in the pizzas came from the cheese.
The amount of sodium in most of the 25 pizzas was substantially over the recommended limit, with nine containing more than 1g per 600kcal serving.
Several pizzas had sodium levels well within the recommended limit but were not advertised as low-salt or low-sodium, indicating that recipes can be modified and remain commercially successful.
To constitute a healthy nutritionally-balanced meal, at least 45 percent of the energy intake should come from carbohydrates. Only five failed to meet this requirement, due to combined high fat and protein contents.
None met the recommended value for iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. One met just the iron requirement and two the vitamin C requirement.
Vitamin A requirement was met in four pizzas, and only one met calcium requirements.
Professor Mike Lean, a physician and nutritionist at the University of Glasgow, said that while none of the pizzas tested satisfied all the nutritional requirements, many of the requirements were met in some pizzas, which told his team that it should be possible to modify the recipes to make them more nutritionally-balanced without impacting on flavour - health by stealth, if you like.
To demonstrate how to do it, the researchers joined forces with an industrial food producer to modify a modern pizza recipe: reducing salt, adding whole-wheat flour, adding a small amount of Scottish seaweed to provide flavour, vitamin B12 and fibre, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine, adding red peppers provided extra vitamin C.
The proportions of bread base to Mozzarella cheese was adjusted to correct the carbohydrate/fat/protein ratios and minimize saturated fat content. After cooking, it was finally analysed in the laboratory.
The team put the end result to a taste test with members of the public and both children and adults gave it the thumbs-up for taste and attractiveness.
The study is published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. (ANI)