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Pizza Mania

by Shashwathi Sandeep

Don’t yield to temptation says an old hymn, but any person would be willing to commit this sin for this food which is lip smacking and inviting and is called a pizza! This rather ‘sinful’ dish dates back to The Ancient Greece where they covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The Romans then developed the placenta, a sheet of flour topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, cheese was added. People have done what not to get their hands on this dish. King Ferdinand I (1751–1825) himslef is said to have disguised himself as a commoner and, in clandestine fashion, visited a poor neighborhood in Naples. One story has it that he wanted to indulge into a food that the queen had banned from the royal court—pizza.

In 1889, during a visit in Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita.

The grass is greener on the other side too!

In the past it was commonly believed that pizza was not really a healthy food. Even in the present scenario, it is a big “No” for a kid to have a pizza as the parents consider it unhealthy. But everything has two sides to it and so goes for a pizza too! Pizza can actually be a highly nutritional meal.

One of the main ingredients of pizza is the tomato, which contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene is known to help fight many different types of cancer. Studies have shown that people who eat pizza at least once a week were much less likely to develop colon and mouth cancer as well as stomach and lung cancer. It is known to be especially helpful in fighting prostate cancer. Studies have shown that eating pizza can lower your chance of developing esophageal cancer by nearly 59%.

It is the tomato that is the main cancer-fighting ingredient of pizza. Studies have also shown that processed tomatoes such as those found in pizza or spaghetti sauce are actually higher in lycopene than fresh tomatoes. The reason for this is that during the process of cooking and processing of the tomatoes, the water content evaporates leaving a higher concentration of the antioxidant.

Tomato sauce is extremely healthy, and for this reason so is pizza, but there are additional pizza toppings that can also enhance your health. Onions are rich in chromium, vitamin C, and fiber. They help to lower your blood sugar, cholesterol as well as blood pressure. Black olives are another great addition to pizza. Olives contain ingredients that help ward off heart disease and lower your cholesterol. The red pepper is a great pizza topping. They are sweet and tasty as well as full of Vitamin C, A, and B6.

Another health benefit of pizza is the dough. Incidentally, pizza dough is another ingredient of pizza that is high in antioxidants, and through certain baking techniques the antioxidants in the dough can actually be increased.

One could make a simple vegetable pizza with just a little cheese is very healthy. With all these health benefits attached to one of the tastiest dishes of the world, it is no longer a sin to grab a bite of the pizza!

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