Several ingredients in pizza, including cheese and meat toppings, may contain cholesterol. However, the exact amount of cholesterol, and whether it is harmful, can vary.
The type of pizza, brand, ingredients, and serving size all affect the amount of cholesterol in pizza. A pizza with no cheese or meat may not have much at all, while a stuffed-crust pizza with pepperoni could be relatively high in cholesterol.
Doctors sometimes advise people with certain health conditions to avoid dietary cholesterol. However, there is
Read on to learn more about whether pizza is high in cholesterol, how much cholesterol it contains, and whether people need to avoid it.
The amount of cholesterol in pizza will vary depending on the pizza brand, ingredients, serving size, and other factors.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from animal products. This means that some pizza toppings, such as cheese and meat, will contain some dietary cholesterol.
Other sources of dietary cholesterol
- egg yolks
- chicken and turkey
- dairy products such as butter
The more of these ingredients a pizza contains, the higher in cholesterol it will be.
Up to a point, cholesterol is not harmful. In the body, cholesterol is
However, high levels of cholesterol in the blood can be harmful and can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
For example, the author of a
Additionally, not all foods that contain cholesterol have the same nutritional profile. For example, eggs and shrimp contain cholesterol, but they also contain protein and other important nutrients and are low in saturated fat.
As research into this topic continues, people may benefit from speaking with a doctor or dietitian about what is right for them.
It is not possible to give exact nutritional information for every pizza, but an older study from the U.S. Department for Agriculture (USDA) found the following amounts of total fat and cholesterol in one specific pizza brand:
|Total fat in grams (g) per 100 g||Cholesterol in milligrams (mg) per 100 g|
|Cheese pizza, thin crust||12.8 g||29.7 mg|
|Cheese pizza, regular crust||10.4 g||17.7 mg|
|Cheese pizza, thick crust||11.3 g||18.6 mg|
|Pepperoni pizza, regular crust||12.6 g||25.8 mg|
|Pepperoni pizza, thick crust||13.1 g||23.5 mg|
Vegan pizzas will not contain any cholesterol since it comes only from animal products. However, store-bought vegan pizzas can still be a source of saturated fat, as some plant-based cheeses contain coconut oil.
The table below outlines the approximate cholesterol, total fat, and saturated fat content for various popular pizza toppings per ounce (28.3 g).
|Total fat||Saturated fat||Cholesterol|
|Mozzarella||3.2 g||18 mg|
|Pepperoni||5 g||27 mg|
|Ham||0.1 g||16 mg|
|Pork sausage||2.6 g||33 mg|
|Ground beef||1.7 g||25 mg|
As a result, a person with high cholesterol may need to avoid pizzas that contain these ingredients or may need to eat them only occasionally.
There are also ways of adapting pizza so that it contains less cholesterol and saturated fat.
People can include pizza in a balanced diet. If people want to reduce the cholesterol content of pizza, they may be able to do so in several ways:
- Switching up toppings: Sometimes, a change in toppings can substantially reduce the cholesterol in pizza. For example, ham contains
less cholesterolper gram than pepperoni. People could also choose pizzas with less cheese.
- Switching to plant-based: Since plants do not contain cholesterol, plant-based diets
have linksto lower levels of cholesterol in the blood. However, plant-based pizzas may still contain sources of saturated fat, such as vegan cheese. It is important to read the nutritional information.
- Switching the crust: Changing from a stuffed crust to a standard crust can reduce the amount of cheese a person eats and therefore reduce the amount of cholesterol. Opting for a sourdough base
may also improvethe bioavailability of nutrients in the crust.
- Switching to homemade: Making pizza at home allows a person to tailor the ingredients to their needs. For those with CVD, this may be especially useful for reducing salt, as many store-bought and restaurant pizzas are high in sodium.
Pizza is not necessarily high in cholesterol. The cholesterol content will depend on the pizza type and brand, the ingredients, and the serving size.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate pizza into a balanced diet. Making a few adjustments to the toppings and crust can lower the cholesterol and saturated fat content.
People with underlying conditions and specific dietary needs should speak with a doctor or dietitian about creating a balanced diet that is appropriate for them.