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Is Neapolitan Pizza Healthy?

Pizza is a food that is enjoyed by many. However, it isn’t thought of as one of the healthiest foods because several varieties are topped with high-calorie, salty ingredients.

A type of pizza that many of us consider healthy is Neapolitan Pizza.

In comparison to other pizzas, it has a lighter dough and crust, however, this doesn’t mean that it is any healthier. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is very bad for you. 

Below, we have covered everything that you need to know about Neapolitan-style pizza, from the ingredients that are used to make it to how it is topped, and the overall calorie content.

After reading, you should then feel more informed about whether or not it is a healthy option. 

What Is Neapolitan pizza?

Neapolitan pizza is also referred to as Naples-style pizza and it is known for its chewy crust.

As implied by the name of this pizza, it originated from Naples in Italy and it is made using a few basic but tasty ingredients.

This includes tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. It is typically smaller than other types of pizza and is topped with more sauce than cheese. 

There are three different variations of Neapolitan pizza; the pizza margarita version that is topped with the four basic ingredients that we have mentioned above, pizza marinara, and pizza Margherita extra.

The pizza marinara version is usually topped with tomato, oregano, garlic basil, mozzarella, and virgin oil.

The pizza Margherita extra version has mozzarella di bufala added to it amongst the other staple ingredients. 

How Many Calories Are There In A Neapolitan Pizza?

A Neapolitan pizza contains between 400 and 800 calories. The exact number will depend on the size of the pizza and the amount of cheese that is added to it.

The dough of Neapolitan pizza is leaner and contains fewer calories than the dough that is used to make most other types of pizza.

Moreover, if you choose to add some additional ingredients to your pizza such as another variety of cheese, you should expect this to increase the calories. 

If you are making one of the three well-known variations of Neapolitan pizza, you will find that the ingredients used to top it contain fewer calories than the toppings added to regular pizza. 

Does Neapolitan Pizza Have A Lot Of Nutritional Value?

Generally, pizza is not a food that is packed full of nutrients and this is because it is essentially bread that is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and a few other basic ingredients.

Of course, it isn’t recommended that you eat pizza for your daily meal, but eating it occasionally isn’t going to have a huge impact on your health. 

What Ingredients Are Used To Make Neapolitan Pizza Dough?

To Make Neapolitan Pizza Dough

The dough of Neapolitan pizza is made using a combination of yeast, flour, water, and salt.

There tends to be an average of around 525 calories in the dough that is used to make a regular-sized Neapolitan pizza.

Now you may be wondering how this type of pizza dough has such a low-calorie content. Essentially, it is because it is lean as we have mentioned previously. 

Lean pizza dough has a lower fat content. It is made from a few main ingredients and it is very low in sugar. It also contains very little or no oil at all.

Regular pizza dough is usually made from flour, water, and yeast however, it has salt, sugar, and eggs added to it. Normally it will have some sort of fat added to it too. 

As Neapolitan pizza dough is lean, it contains far fewer calories than other types of pizza dough. Whilst it does contain flour, this isn’t going to hugely increase the total calorie content of the dough.

The way in which this type of pizza is cooked contributes to the main reason why lean dough is the dough of choice.

Traditionally it is cooked in a wood-fired oven which can reach blazing hot temperatures.

If oil was used to make the pizza dough, there is a risk that it would burn as it cooks and this is because oil is an effective conductor of heat and will cook the dough quite quickly.

This factor along with an already hot oven isn’t going to be the best combination. 

When discussing pizza dough and calorie content, it helps to have an understanding of dough hydration. Dough hydration refers to the ratio of water to flour that is used to make the dough.

It is a measurement that is typically expressed as a percentage. For example, if you are following a recipe that asks you to combine 1000 grams of flour with 60 grams of water, the hydration of the dough is 60%. 

If the dough has a higher hydration percentage, it is going to contain less flour and therefore it will not be as high in calories.

On the other hand, pizza dough that has a lower hydration percentage is ultimately going to be made using a higher quantity of flour, as a result, it will contain more calories. 

An authentic Neapolitan pizza typically has a hydration measurement between 58% and 65%, however, it is worth noting that this measurement can differ depending on the recipe that you follow. 

What Ingredients Are Used To Make Neapolitan Pizza Sauce?

The calorie content of Neapolitan pizza sauce is going to differ depending on how it is made.

Whilst some people may choose to make it from scratch using fresh tomatoes, others may use canned tomatoes or passata. 

Fresh tomatoes are low in calories, in fact, a single, averaged-sized tomato contains approximately 22 calories. There are also thought to be several benefits associated with consuming fresh tomatoes.

They are a source of the antioxidant lycopene which is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease. Moreover, tomatoes, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. 

In an average-sized can of tomatoes, there are typically between 30 and 32 calories. Just like fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene.

Passata usually contains around 38 calories. Again, passata has similar nutritional benefits to fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes.

It is worth bearing in mind that canned varieties usually contain some sort of preservative.

This doesn’t apply to all types and in many cases, the preservative in question will be salt.

Moreover, the exact number of calories in canned tomatoes or passata may differ depending on the brand that you purchase it from. 

When it comes to making your own Neapolitan pizza, an alternative option is to purchase a ready-made pizza sauce from the local store.

You will need to check the nutritional information on the packaging of the sauce to see whether or not it is healthy. Often you will find that the ready-made varieties contain added ingredients like sugar. 

The majority of calories in the pizza sauce come from the tomatoes, however, when combined with the other ingredients a Neapolitan pizza usually has a total of 50 calories. 

There are several recipes available that you can follow to make Neapolitan pizza sauce. The quality of the ingredients is going to influence the overall taste of the sauce.

All that you need is tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. It can also be rustled up in a matter of minutes. 

Does The Cheese Have Much Nutritional Value?

Mozzarella is the type of cheese that is used on Neapolitan pizza. There are two varieties of mozzarella and the one that you use is going to depend on what Neapolitan pizza you intend to make.

The first variety is made from cow’s milk and the second is made from the milk of a water buffalo. 

Out of all of the ingredients that are used to make pizza, the cheese has the least nutritional value. In 100 grams of mozzarella, there are around 280 calories.

It contains a lot of moisture and there are types available that contain less fat.

It is also quite creamy and some would describe the taste as being a little bland, hence why some people choose to add quite a lot of it.

Because mozzarella cheese is lower in fat, it is considered to be healthier than most other types of cheese. 

As mozzarella cheese isn’t very heavily processed, you will notice that it has a different texture to other cheeses. It is very soft and quite chewy and melts quickly when exposed to heat. 

The majority of Neapolitan pizzas are topped with around 200 calories of mozzarella cheese.

When you compare this to the amount of cheese that is added to other types of regular pizza, it is quite low. 

If you are a cheese lover, you may be wondering how you can make your pizza healthier. We have delved into this in more detail below. 

What Other Toppings Can Be Added To A Neapolitan Pizza?

Traditional Neapolitan pizzas are typically made using fewer ingredients than other regular pizzas, however, when making your own, you can experiment with different toppings and add some more. 

You may wish to add some parmesan cheese as well as mozzarella cheese. Parmesan cheese has several health benefits. It is highly nutritious as it contains an excellent source of protein and calcium.

Moreover, parmesan is also loaded with vitamins. Despite these benefits, parmesan is high in calories so it shouldn’t be consumed in excessive quantities. 

Most Neapolitan pizza recipes do not call for the use of meat, however, you can add some if desired. Prosciutto is the name given to an Italian cured ham.

Although it is a great source of protein and it also contains minerals and vitamins, it does have a high salt content. Too much salt in your diet can result in high blood pressure. 

As you can see there is an array of toppings that you can add to your Neapolitan pizza even if they aren’t traditionally added. Whilst they may taste nice, sometimes they aren’t the most nutritional.

Because of this, if you want to make a healthy pizza, it is important to check the nutritional value of the additional ingredients that you are intending to add. 

How Can You Reduce The Calories In A Neapolitan Pizza To Make It Healthier?

How Can You Reduce The Calories In A Neapolitan Pizza To Make It Healthier

As we have identified, Neapolitan pizza isn’t the unhealthiest type of pizza, however, there are a few ways that you can make it just that little bit healthier. We have identified several ways below. 

Make Sure That You Use Lean Pizza Dough

Using lean pizza dough is an effective way of reducing the calorie content of your pizza. Ideally, it is recommended that you try not to use any oil at all if you are making your own Neapolitan pizza.

When using lean pizza dough it is recommended that you bake it on a pizza steel or a pizza stone and then bake it inside an oven making sure that it is as hot as possible.

This will then create the puffed and slightly blackened edges that this type of pizza is known for. 

Create Your Own

Making your own pizza will allow you to control what ingredients are added to it and as such, you can make it healthier than the shop bought versions.

Moreover, making a homemade pizza is also going to allow you to manage what the ingredients are cooked in.

For example, in many cases, the ingredients that are used to top ready made pizzas are cooked in fat or oils, however, by making your own you can cook them so they aren’t as greasy. 

If you intend to cook the ingredients in oil, ideally you should use extra virgin oil. This is because this is one of the healthiest types of cooking oils.

It contains monounsaturated fats which promote good heart health. Furthermore, virgin olive oil acts as a powerful antioxidant.

Even when using this healthier type of oil, you should make sure that you do not use too much. 

Try To Increase The Hydration Of The Pizza Dough

As we have discussed previously in our guide, if the dough has a higher hydration percentage, it isn’t going to contain as many calories.

If you are going to make a homemade Neapolitan pizza you should try and increase the hydration of the dough. You can do this by adding more water to the mix than flour.

Not only is the dough going to be healthier, but it is also going to have a lighter consistency. 

Cook It Using A Woodfired Oven

Traditionally, this style of pizza is cooked inside a wood-fired oven. If possible, you should try and cook your pizza using a wood-fired pizza oven or some kind of specific pizza oven.

Pizzas that are cooked inside a woodfired oven can be healthier. This is because they are cooked quicker and will therefore retain their nutritional value.

Whilst regular pizzas can take up to 20 minutes to cook, Neapolitan pizzas and other types that are cooked in wood-fired ovens can be ready in as little as 90 seconds. 

If pizza is a food that you enjoy eating but you don’t already own a pizza oven, you may consider one to be a worthwhile investment. 

Do Not Use Too Much Cheese

For cheese lovers, sometimes it can be difficult to regulate the amount that you add to your pizza.

However, if you are trying to make your pizza healthier you will need to try and use less because cheese is the ingredient that adds the most calories.

Cutting down the amount of cheese that you add isn’t going to hugely take away from the taste, in fact, some might argue that adding a lot of cheese overpowers the other ingredients. 

It is recommended that you cut the mozzarella cheese into slices. Thin slices are preferred because they are not going to retain as much moisture.

Some people may choose to make the pizza without using any cheese.

Out of the three different types of traditional Neapolitan pizza, pizza marinara is the only one that doesn’t call for the use of cheese, however, it makes up for this by using other delicious ingredients. 

Experiment With Different Bases

Another way that you can make your pizza healthier involves experimenting with different types of bases.

Although these are considered to be healthier alternatives they are not going to taste exactly the same as pizza dough. They are also going to be of a different thickness and consistency. 

Tortilla wraps are becoming an increasingly popular choice. They are thin and therefore when they are exposed to heat, they are going to become crispy.

A great thing about tortilla bases is that they are readily available in the majority of stores. Simply spread the sauce onto the base and then add your toppings on top of this.

The calories in tortilla wraps can differ depending on the type that you use. Corn tortilla wraps tend to contain fewer calories than those that are made from flour.

Typically corn tortillas contain around 96 calories, whilst flour tortillas contain around 138 calories. 

The second option is to make a cauliflower pizza base. When cooked it typically becomes quite crispy.

It is also worth noting that cauliflower has quite a prominent taste which some people may not like. There are 25 calories in 100 grams of cauliflower.

Of course, the number of calories is going to increase depending on the amount of cauliflower that you use to make the base.

Furthermore, there are several benefits associated with eating cauliflower. It is an excellent source of antioxidants.

It is also rich in fiber and contains lots of nutrients. Eating cauliflower is also believed to support a healthy immune system. 

If you are not deterred by the taste and are looking for a pizza base that has a lot of nutritional value, opting for cauliflower is a great option. 

Use A Pizza Sauce That Is Low In Fat

Generally, pizza sauce is quite healthy as it doesn’t contain a lot of calories, however, there are still ways of reducing the calorie content even further.

The tomato sauce is made using oil so you could cut this down. Some people may choose not to use any oil at all.

Making pizza sauce is a relatively straightforward process, however, there are a few recipes that you can follow if you are making it for the first time. 

Be Cautious About The Ingredients That You Add To The Pizza

When making a Neapolitan pizza you should try not to overdo it with the toppings. You should try and avoid ingredients that are really high in salt, as well as those that need to be cooked in oils and fats.

Furthermore, you should also try to limit the amount of high-calorie ingredients that you add.

If you do not want to stick to a vegetarian pizza, use leaner meats like chicken rather than meats that have been heavily processed. 

Tips For Cooking Neapolitan Pizza

  • Do not cook your pizza for longer than 60 seconds. Traditional Neapolitan pizzas are cooked inside a very hot oven, so cooking them for longer than this increases the risk of the crust burning. 
  • When cooked, the pizza should be golden brown with slightly burnt patches that are slightly crispier than the rest. There should also be some bubbles on the surface. 
  • Before cooking the dough, when you prepare it you should spread it out by hand. As you do so, try and create a puffed edge that will form the crust. 
  • If possible, use Tipo 00 flour as this is the type that is used by chefs in the majority of professional restaurants to create a Neapolitan pizza. 

Final Thoughts

Neapolitan pizza is considered to be a healthier type of pizza than most other types. As it has a thinner base and it isn’t topped with a huge amount of ingredients it isn’t that high in calories.

It can be made from scratch using a basic selection of fresh ingredients. When compared to other meals it isn’t overly nutritional, therefore, it isn’t recommended that you eat it on a daily basis. 

As we have identified, there are several steps that you can follow to make your pizza slightly healthier.

You don’t necessarily need to completely strip your pizza of the tasty ingredients, but it is important to be cautious about the quantity in which you add them.

Furthermore, you should also think about how you are going to cook the pizza toppings. Ultimately, Neapolitan pizza is healthy when it is enjoyed as a treat.