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Pizza vs Pasta - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Pasta

Introduction

Pizza originated in Italy, but it has since expanded throughout the world and has become one of the most popular fast foods. Fast food does not relate to the original pizza. The dough, sauce, and cheese are the three essential components of pizza. It's highly versatile, and it can be made vegan, vegetarian, or with meat components.

When it comes to pasta, there is a debate on where the origin of pasta is. Some say that Marco Polo brought it with him from China during his travels as noodles. The Italians got inspired by it and came up with pasta. Some even considered that pasta itself has originated from Sicilia and spread around Italy and the world with time. Italy has a type of hard wheat that can produce semolina flour which is the best flour to prepare the pasta dough from.

Culinary world

Pizza is very versatile, it can be a traditional thin dough Italian pizza, a New York fast-food pizza, or even a Chicago-style pizza. In addition to these, they can be vegetarian, seafood-based, pepperoni, salami, and prosciutto pizzas. As the types vary, their nutritional content varies with it.

On the other hand, pasta is more versatile than pizza. The pasta itself can be spaghetti, penne, fusilli, lasagna, and many more. In addition to this difference, the pasta sauce can be different, the sauce can be pesto, arrabbiata, alfredo, and many others. They can be with meat, chicken, seafood, and even vegan or vegetarian.

Price

The simplest cooked pasta overall is much cheaper than a simple pizza. Taking into consideration a simple pasta cup with tomato sauce vs a pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Shelf life

An important feature of pasta is its shelf life. Any type of pasta that is brought from the market can be stored for at least a year whereas pizza is either frozen or fresh made.

Healthy ingredients

Thin dough, homemade pizza is a healthier option than a fast-food pizza. Healthier cheeses eaten with pizza are mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, and swiss cheese. Healthier toppings are vegetables and low-fat proteins like chicken breast. These vegetables increase the mineral and vitamin profile of the pizzas. On the other hand, pasta is similarly dependent on the sauce and toppings which are used. Using butter and cream-based sauces causes the pasta to be less healthy. Tomato-based sauces, ground low-fat meat, and vegetables are one of the healthiest sauces and toppings to be added in the preparation of pasta.

Preparation method

Pizza needs more effort and processing time to prepare as compared to pasta. Pasta is very quick to prepare, in about 12 min a quick pasta meal can be prepared where pizza requires more time because there is a baking step.

In this article, we are going to compare the difference between pizza and pasta based on their nutritional data, health impacts, and weight loss programs. The pizza that we are going to take into consideration is a fast-food-type plain cheese thin dough pizza. On the other hand, the pasta is plain pasta without any additional sauces or toppings.

Nutritional data comparison

Calories

Pasta has fewer calories compared to pizza. Thus, we have to take into consideration that any additional toppings like sauces, protein, and cheese will increase the calories of the pasta.

Glycemic index

Pasta has a lower glycemic index compared to pizza. Pasta is categorized in the low glycemic index foods and pizza on the medium glycemic index food.

Carbs

Pizza is higher in carbs compared to pasta. Pizza contains one and a half times the amount of carbs as pasta. It is important to note that both are considered high in carbohydrates.

Protein

Pizza is richer in protein than pasta. It is almost double the number of proteins.

Fats

The amounts of fats are mostly due to the toppings that are added on top of pizza and pasta. The more cheese, meat, chicken, seafood, and oil or butter are added the higher the amounts of fat would be.

Cholesterol and trans fats

It is also important to note that cholesterol and trans fats increase or decrease as toppings vary. For example, the more the toppings are meat-based for example pepperoni, salami, ground beef, or even some fish products the higher the cholesterol amounts will be. In addition to that, the more processed or fried elements are added, for example, different processed cheeses or fried elements added on top of pizza, the higher the trans fat content would be. It is important to take into consideration the amounts of cholesterol and trans fats.

Minerals

Pizzas are overall richer in minerals compared to pasta. Pizza is richer in calcium, iron, phosphorus, and manganese. However, pizza is considered high in pizza.

Vitamins

Similar to minerals, pizza has a better vitamin profile than pasta. They are richer in folate, vitamin A and B1.

Note

It is important to take into consideration the different topics and sauces that are added to both pizza and pasta. As mentioned above, the pasta taken into consideration is plain cooked pasta. On other hand, the pizza taken into consideration is a thin-crusted, tomato sauce with cheese pasta. As the toppings and sauces change, the nutritional content changes with them.

Weight loss and diets

Pizza is regarded as one of the most customizable foods. If necessary, they can be modified to meet a healthy diet. Although most of the excellent portions of the pizza, such as the pepperoni, additional cheese, and dipping the dough in sauces, would be eliminated. The goal of sticking to a diet for a long time is to eat as few restricted foods as possible. The more restricted meals are in a diet, the more cravings for that specific meal will occur.

A homemade pizza would be a healthy alternative to a fast-food pizza. Knowing what ingredients are being utilized helps in the preparation procedure. The way to go is with thin dough, less cheese, and more veggie toppings. Of course, the number of slices consumed should be limited.

When it comes to pasta, although it is high in carbs, athletes eat pasta on the side of proteins because of the carbs that they provide. In addition to that, it has a lower glycemic index meaning that it does not cause a spike in insulin levels and is absorbed slowly into the system. This keeps the person fuller for longer and energized.

Keto

Pizza is included in the keto diet, with a few adjustments. The dough is the source of carbs in pizza, thus changing the wheat-based dough is difficult. Cauliflower-based dough or almond flour-based dough are two other options. Low-carbohydrate, high-fat cheese can be consumed.

When it comes to toppings, it's critical to look for low-carb choice toppings.

Pasta cannot be eaten in the keto diet. An alternative to pasta can be made with zucchini. For example, zucchini spaghetti or lasagna can be prepared which is keto-friendly.

Vegan

Both pasta and pizza can be consumed in the vegan diet, however, the toppings and sauces should be taken into consideration.

Gluten-free diets

Celiac illness restricts people from consuming gluten. Gluten consumption might result in severe symptoms, hence gluten should be avoided for the patients. When it comes to pizza dough and pasta made of wheat, gluten-free dough and pasta should be consumed instead.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Pizza, being fast food, is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease in adults. Pizza is harmful to the heart and circulatory system.

Pizzas have a high sodium content. The risk of getting hypertension is increased if salt levels are not monitored for long periods. (1) (2) (3)

Pasta consumption had overall regular effects on the overall diet because it balances out everyday food consumption. In moderation, pasta can be consumed without any harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. (4)

Obesity

Pizza consumption has been linked to an increase in obesity risks. (1)

Compared to pizza, Pasta has a lower glycemic index, which decreases fat deposition in the body and maintains a healthier blood glucose level and weight control when consumed in moderation. (5)

Diabetes

After eating pizza, measuring blood glucose levels revealed a significant increase in blood sugar levels, resulting in high hyperglycemia thresholds. Type 2 diabetes would develop if this hyperglycemic condition was maintained regularly. (6)

The low glycemic index of pasta doesn’t cause a spike in blood insulin levels and maintains a regular blood glucose level. In turn, reducing risks of developing metabolic disorders and diabetes. (5)

Health benefits

Eating a well-balanced, healthful homemade pizza has its advantages.

Obesity risks are reduced by eating the above-mentioned healthy pizza, according to research.

The baker's yeast used in pizzas is beneficial to one's general health. It boosts your immune system, boosts your metabolism, and improves your digestion and absorption of meals. (7) (8)

Pasta can be prepared in a healthy way that can contain the perfect amount of carbs, proteins, and all other necessary elements that are required in a daily diet.

Gluten-free pasta and pizza on overall health

Gluten-free pasta and pizza are prepared with alternatives to wheat such as rice or potato, they are higher in carbs and glycemic index. It was shown that blood glucose levels were much higher in gluten-free pizza and pasta than compared to blood glucose levels after eating a regular pizza or pasta. This is a question to be asked, which is healthier? The gluten-free or the regular. Overall, it is important to stay away from gluten-free foods if the person suffers from celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Anything other than that might not be a healthier choice for the person. (9)

Summary

Pizza has a richer nutritional profile compared to pasta. However, pizza is higher in sodium, fats, and carbs. Pasta has a lower glycemic index, it is cheaper and has a longer shelf life. Pasta is healthier than pizza however, they are dependent on the toppings and sauces.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772793/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3381762/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770596/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7426435/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29615407/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8462382/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24160252/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18335702/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28771262/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 21, 2021

Infographic

Pizza vs Pasta infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Pizza
7
:
1
Pasta
Contains more Iron +117.5%
Contains more Calcium +3033.3%
Contains more Potassium +616.7%
Contains more Magnesium +33.3%
Contains more Copper +12.9%
Contains more Zinc +139.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +242.9%
Contains less Sodium -99%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 93% 57% 16% 18% 35% 37% 93% 78%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 43% 2% 3% 13% 31% 16% 27% 1%
Contains more Iron +117.5%
Contains more Calcium +3033.3%
Contains more Potassium +616.7%
Contains more Magnesium +33.3%
Contains more Copper +12.9%
Contains more Zinc +139.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +242.9%
Contains less Sodium -99%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Pizza
11
:
1
Pasta
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +1690%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +86.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +30%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +285.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +135.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +200%
Contains more Folate +45.3%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 5% 22% 17% 0% 98% 45% 72% 0% 19% 53% 17% 70%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 2% 0% 0% 53% 35% 19% 11% 8% 18% 0% 48%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +1690%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +86.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +30%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +285.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +135.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +200%
Contains more Folate +45.3%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
35
Pizza
16
Pasta
Mineral Summary Score
53
Pizza
17
Pasta

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
68%
Pizza
31%
Pasta
Carbohydrates
33%
Pizza
25%
Pasta
Fats
45%
Pizza
5%
Pasta

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Pizza Pasta
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Pizza Pasta
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Pizza
Pizza is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 16mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Pizza
Pizza is cheaper (difference - $3)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pizza
Pizza is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Pizza
Pizza is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pasta
Pasta is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.58g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pasta
Pasta contains less Sodium (difference - 592mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Pasta
Pasta is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 4.315g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Pasta
Pasta is lower in glycemic index (difference - 11)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pizza Pasta Opinion
Calories 266 131 Pizza
Protein 11.39 5.15 Pizza
Fats 9.69 1.05 Pizza
Vitamin C 1.4 0 Pizza
Carbs 33.33 24.93 Pizza
Cholesterol 17 33 Pizza
Vitamin D 0 Pizza
Iron 2.48 1.14 Pizza
Calcium 188 6 Pizza
Potassium 172 24 Pizza
Magnesium 24 18 Pizza
Sugar 3.58 Pasta
Fiber 2.3 Pizza
Copper 0.105 0.093 Pizza
Zinc 1.34 0.56 Pizza
Starch 26.95 Pizza
Phosphorus 216 63 Pizza
Sodium 598 6 Pasta
Vitamin A 358 20 Pizza
Vitamin E 0.83 Pizza
Vitamin D 0 Pizza
Vitamin B1 0.39 0.209 Pizza
Vitamin B2 0.195 0.15 Pizza
Vitamin B3 3.825 0.992 Pizza
Vitamin B5 0.183 Pasta
Vitamin B6 0.08 0.034 Pizza
Vitamin B12 0.42 0.14 Pizza
Vitamin K 6.7 Pizza
Folate 93 64 Pizza
Trans Fat 0.241 Pasta
Saturated Fat 4.465 0.15 Pasta
Monounsaturated Fat 2.608 0.124 Pizza
Polyunsaturated fat 1.681 0.429 Pizza
Tryptophan 0.065 Pasta
Threonine 0.41 0.134 Pizza
Isoleucine 0.564 0.197 Pizza
Leucine 1.139 0.348 Pizza
Lysine 0.77 0.097 Pizza
Methionine 0.264 0.079 Pizza
Phenylalanine 0.664 0.247 Pizza
Valine 0.72 0.217 Pizza
Histidine 0.355 0.103 Pizza
Fructose 1 Pizza

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Pizza - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173292/nutrients
  2. Pasta - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169728/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.