If pizza is more than an occasional treat in your household, it’s a good idea to look for the healthier brands and toppings. While none of the pizzas we compared could be considered a truly healthy choice, there are several that aren’t too bad nutritionally. Some brands (Crust Healthier Choice, Papa Giuseppi’s Tasty Balance) produce pizzas low enough in saturated fat and sodium to get a Heart Foundation Tick. The Taste test table shows the healthiest pizza produced by each of the major brands; for the full list, and to see how your favourites compare, go to the Nutrition comparison table.
Factors to consider for a healthier pizza are:
Energy Pizzas are energy-dense – they can pack many kilojoules into one modest serving. 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 (measured as kJ/100g).
Saturated fat Too much saturated fat is a major cause of heart disease, and pizzas often have far too much of it. 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.
Brands to look for
Domino’s Good Choice and the Crust Healthier Choice range of pizzas stand out as the healthiest pizzas overall (but Crust have relatively few outlets and only in the eastern states, so we haven’t included them in our table).
Black & Gold, Home Brand, Mama Mia (Aldi) and Woolworths Deliexpress are only a little worse for saturated fat; Remano (Aldi), Home Brand, Papa Giuseppi’s, Fresh Approach (Aldi) and McCain have less sodium than other brands (but a lot more than Crust Healthier Choice). At the other extreme, Pizza Hut’s pizzas are the unhealthiest overall (especially their Thin ’n Crispy range); these pizzas average significantly more saturated fat and sodium than other brands, and deliver more kilojoules.
Crusts and toppings
Vegetarian, seafood and chicken-based toppings are often the healthiest choice. In most brands, these toppings have lower energy densities than other flavours, as well as less saturated fat and salt.
When it comes to crusts, thin crusts are not the healthy option you might think. The kilojoules, saturated fat and sodium come mostly from the topping, so the higher the ratio of crust to topping, the healthier the pizza. On average, pan pizzas and those with regular crusts are healthier than their thin-crust equivalents. But 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.