Pizza's thin edge of the crust not so healthy

If you’re worried about your weight, stick to the spag bol

CHOICE has busted some myths in a survey and taste test of almost 300 different pizzas sold nationally by the major home delivery chains and supermarkets.

The test’s most surprising findings are that thin crusts are not necessarily the healthiest option; some pizzas - particularly those with chicken-based toppings - are far less fattening than others and the big chains have the tastiest pizzas.

CHOICE said the test found that on average, pan pizzas and those with regular crusts are healthier than their thin-crust equivalents.

With thin crusts pizzas, the kilojoules, saturated fat and sodium come mostly from the topping, so the higher the ratio of crust to topping the healthier the pizza.

Pizzas with vegetarian, seafood or chicken-based toppings generally have the least saturated fat and salt.

Three experts were unable to rate any of the major brands as healthy but found the tastiest pizzas came from the three big takeaway chains, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Eagle Boys.

The experts, who were trained in Italy and run pizza restaurants, were seriously unimpressed by supermarket bought frozen pizzas you heat in the oven at home.

Factors to consider for a healthier pizza are:

Energy Even the least fattening pizza that we found, Crust Healthier Choice Roast Vegetable, delivers 740kJ per 100g, which compares with only about 430kJ/100g for spaghetti bolognaise. So if you’re watching your weight, look for pizzas with lower energy density.

Saturated fat Try to avoid those with more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g; in the food traffic light system that CHOICE advocates, this amount would trigger a red light, meaning the pizza is too high in saturated fat to be anything more than an occasional treat (amber is OK).

Sodium Too much salt (sodium chloride) increases your risk of stroke. Avoiding pizzas with more than about 600mg of sodium per 100g – the red light trigger – is unfortunately easier said than done, as 29% of the pizzas in our survey contain at least this much sodium.

Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust pizzas, where the crust contains extra cheese, are a nutritional disaster, with far too much saturated fat and sodium, not to mention the extra kilojoules.

Related articles

Related tags:

Pizza reviews

We reveal which brands and chains offer the healthiest and tastiest options.

15 Mar 2010 | CHOICE compared more than 190 brands and flavours of pizza available nationally from supermarkets (chilled or frozen) or from takeaway chains. We found some big differences in nutritional value – and in value for money.

Supermarket ready meals

From shelf to microwave, they're ready in minutes. But are these packaged meals any good?

3 Feb 2010 | Supermarket shelves are crammed with shelf-stable meals, costing between $3 and $5. We sort the best from the rest.

Learn more

Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.