Pizza, Re-Imagined as Healthy

I have been waiting for this news all of my life: Pizza might just be healthy.

And I'm not talking about pizza without cheese. Oh no, when it comes to pizza, I am a purist who likes a solid layer of mozzarella and toppings that are not healthy by anyone's standards. Naked pizza, in my humble opinion, is tasty enough, as are toppings like vegan sausage. But c'mon, if it's not a greasy slice, it's just not pizza.

According to an article at CNN.com, however, pizza is getting a healthy makeover, thanks to food scientists who have tweaked whole wheat pizza dough.

Normally, I get a bit leery when I hear the words "food scientists," but in this case, I confess that I am pretty thrilled. Especially since this study wasn't underwritten by the pizza industry.

It seems that these food scientists—or geniuses, if you prefer—have found ways to increase the antioxidant levels of whole-grain wheat pizza dough. Their tactics include longer baking times at higher temperatures and making sure that the dough rises for a much longer period of time.

They research showed that antioxidant levels rose by as much as 82 percent if the pizza was cooked for longer times in a hotter oven. The trick, it seems, is to make sure the pizza doesn't burn. They tested pizza in ovens ranging from 400-550 degrees Fahrenheit and used baking times from 7 to 14 minutes. (I'm not sure how this is different from any standard recipe, but then I can't toss dough in the air, either).

They also noted that dough that fermented for up to two days, rather than the standard 18 hours, had nearly double the antioxidant levels, which is probably due to a chemical reaction from the yeast.

Of course, there is a catch: any benefits we might get from the new-and-improved pizza crust will quickly be negated if we throw on too many layers of mozzarella and pepperoni.

Oh well, at least it's a step in the right direction.

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