Understanding the Impact of Pizza on Cholesterol Levels: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the Impact of Pizza on Cholesterol Levels: A Comprehensive Guide

Is Pizza Bad for Cholesterol Levels? A Comprehensive Guide 

Any food could potentially be unhealthy when you consume too much of it, right? Sure, there are some food choices that are better than others. However, we can’t live our lives being scared of food. Should you be aware and familiar so that you can make informed and health-conscious decisions? Absolutely! The key is to remember everything in moderation and understand how that food may affect you.

Is pizza bad for cholesterol? It certainly can be. Thanks to all those toppings, the crust, and a multitude of gooey cheese, it can certainly spike your cholesterol levels. But a world without pizza is no fun, right? In this guide, we will share more details about how cholesterol can be impacted by pizza as well as some tips to make it healthier too. Keep reading to learn more!

Two wood-fired pizzas, with cheese, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella

More About Cholesterol

How much do you know about cholesterol? We all know and have heard the word, but do we really understand what it means or how it impacts our health? The truth is that cholesterol is necessary for your body. However, there are certain levels that we want to try to maintain and there is such a thing as bad cholesterol too.

Cholesterol is a substance that is in your blood and contributes to building cell membranes, synthesizing Vitamin D, and helping to produce certain hormones. It has a big job, but the key is that you want to maintain regulated levels of cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol. There are two main types of cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can lead to a risk of heart disease. For our whole lives, we’ve heard LDL cholesterol referred to as bad cholesterol. The thing is that it’s not all bad. It’s just that it is bad for us when we have too much of it.

High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease or stroke, which is why maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is so important. Your liver makes cholesterol on your behalf. Truthfully speaking, it can make all of the cholesterol that you need. However, we also get cholesterol from the foods we eat. The most common source of cholesterol in our body comes from food produced by animals. This includes meat, poultry, and dairy.

These foods impact your cholesterol levels because many of them are also higher in fats. When your body gets that excess fat, the liver makes even more cholesterol. The extra cholesterol production causes your numbers to go up and may put your levels into an unhealthy range. This is particularly a risk if you eat a lot of foods in these categories. In addition, baked goods or foods that have certain types of oils in them can also raise your cholesterol.

Ultimately, for optimal health, you want to have higher levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) paired with lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This should be your goal for health purposes.

A pizza with a cauliflower crust


Is Pizza Bad for Cholesterol: What is In Pizza?

To determine how cholesterol can affect your health, we need to think about what is in a slice of pizza. A typical pizza has these basic ingredients:

  • Crust
  • Sauce
  • Seasoning
  • Toppings
  • Cheese

All of these things have their own dynamic impact on your health and your cholesterol levels. The reason pizza can be bad for your cholesterol is because it has several ingredients that are cholesterol boosters, like meat and cheese. These two elements make up a big part of what most people enjoy about their pizza. The crust can also impact your cholesterol.

Let’s look at the ingredient breakdown a little bit closer.


Every pizza starts with a great crust. Perhaps you have even seen specially-made crusts out there. A popular low-carb crust option is to make a crust with mozzarella cheese and egg. While that does help to reduce carbs, it doesn’t do anything to benefit your cholesterol, thanks to the added layer of cheese.

Generally speaking, crust is made using refined flour and other baking ingredients. Refined flour is most likely to affect your blood sugar levels because of the carbs. Most crusts also have things like butter or oil in them. These often contribute to higher levels of fat and more calories

Next time try thin-crust pizzas instead of those deep-dish pizzas you love. 

Am arugula, tomato, and cheese pizza with thin-crust



Sauce is the next layer of pizza. While sauce can vary, it typically has a variety of herbs and spices paired with tomatoes. You can purchase pre-made pizza sauce or make your own and the ingredients will be somewhat consistent. Now, many pizza companies have specialty sauces too so the marinara sauce is no longer the only option.

For the purpose of keeping it simple, we aren’t going to break down every sauce combination out there. Just know that there are additional sauce choices and each sauce comes with its own set of ingredients that might impact your health or diet in some way.

Pizza sauce is typically not a huge contributor to high cholesterol. Since it is made with a tomato base and contains herbs and spices, it will have little to no impact. These are all low-cholesterol foods. However, you should be aware that pizza sauce often has added sodium and sugars that could make a difference to your health overall.


It would be nearly impossible to tell you the exact seasonings that you will find on a pizza. Pizza is an Italian food so you’re most likely going to find herbs and spices that match that theme. The good news is that seasoning isn’t a huge trigger for cholesterol. With the assumption that there will be things like parsley, oregano, and other Italian seasonings, you don’t have to worry too much about seasoning.

The one thing you might want to be aware of and cautious about is the presence of sodium. While you may find pizza to be high in sodium, the good news is that there is no distinct correlation between sodium and high cholesterol levels.


The toppings are where we really start to see a concern in terms of cholesterol. What are your favorite toppings for pizza? If you prefer vegetable toppings, then great for you! With veggie pizza, your cholesterol exposure is much lower.

That being said, pepperoni is the number one most popular type of pizza in the United States and makes up nearly 36% of all pizzas made. Pepperoni has a lot of saturated fat in it and unfortunately is one of the worst foods you can eat for cholesterol because of that. Cured meats simply are not great for cholesterol numbers. Some other meats that could have a negative impact on your cholesterol include sausage and bacon.


A pepperoni pizza


Of course, there are plenty of other toppings and lean meat too. There are plenty of meat options used for toppings. Most meats will impact your cholesterol levels, especially fatty meats. The best meats for maintaining healthy cholesterol are poultry and fish.


Cheese has a lot of great benefits for health when eaten in moderation. It’s a great source of both protein and calcium. However, cheese is still a food that comes from animals and that means that it can have higher cholesterol levels. Pizza often contains a minimum of one type of cheese.

Cheese is one of the primary ingredients and most pizzas have loads of ooey, gooey cheese on them. In fact, cheese pizza is another majorly popular selection. Mozzarella is the go-to cheese for pizza toppings and it is unfortunately one of the highest in saturated fat. Saturated fat has a very close correlation with elevated LDL cholesterol levels.

Understanding the Impact of Pizza to Cholesterol Levels

The sad truth is that pizza absolutely can be bad for your cholesterol. There are several ingredients that directly impact LDL cholesterol levels and that can mean it’s not a great choice for some. The cheese and the meat toppings are the biggest contributors to cholesterol risks from pizza. However, the pizza crust may also pose a risk as it will affect triglyceride levels from refined flour and processing.

When you eat traditional forms of pizza, it can impact your cholesterol levels in a negative way. That doesn’t mean you can never eat pizza. It simply means you should be aware and not eat pizza every day. It really is all about making mindful choices and eating a balanced diet overall. Try to limit your pizza intake to help reduce how it may affect your cholesterol.

You can also do many things to help reduce cholesterol levels, like adjusting your toppings or the cheese aspect. Making little changes to your pizza could prove to make a big difference.

Making Healthier Choices for Cholesterol with Pizza

Don’t let the potential risks stop you from ever enjoying pizza. Remember that everything in moderation is really what you should strive for. When you purposely make overall healthy choices, eating pizza will not be nearly as significant as if you eat poorly all the time.

Pizza lovers can make pizza healthy in many ways. If you want a nutritious pizza, here are a few tips to better control your cholesterol intake. 

  • Choose poultry, fish, and leaner meats
  • Top your pizza with more vegetables
  • Reduce the amount of cheese
  • Avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, or pepperoni
  • Try whole grain crust
  • Make your own healthier pizza at home
  • Manage portion sizes

All of these little details just might be the change you need to help you enjoy pizza as part of a balanced diet. Even when you order from pizza shops and restaurants, you can use these tips to improve the quality of your pizza and how it affects your health. Choose overall healthier options and see the difference it makes for you.

We know you love that cheesy, gooey pizza but consider ordering light cheese and loading up on lean meat and veggies for your toppings. Skip the extra cheese or even try part-skim mozzarella. Use more fresh ingredients and less processed ingredients. You can also have homemade pizza to control the cholesterol content for a healthy diet approach. 

Finally, when you eat pizza, control your portion sizes. Let pizza be your treat or easy dinner from time to time and not a meal you eat every day. Eat appropriate portion sizes when you do have pizza and you will be just fine.

Is Pizza Bad for Cholesterol?

In closing, to answer the question is pizza bad for cholesterol content, the answer is it depends. Pizza certainly can be bad for cholesterol and contribute to the risk of heart disease. However, there are many different foods that can be bad for cholesterol, especially if you consume too much of them. You don’t have to ditch the pizza for good, you just need to be mindful to make overall healthy choices and monitor your portions when you do indulge.

Looking for ways to improve your cholesterol? Consider our Cholesterol Support Bundle to help you maintain better overall numbers and take a look at the best heart health supplements to help lower cholesterol. 

The Cholesterol Support Bundle from Revive


The information being presented in this blog is intended to be used as educational or resource information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider. This content should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider. You should call 911 for all medical emergencies. Revive MD is not liable for any advice or information provided on this blog, which advice or information is provided on an “as-is” basis, and assumes no liability for diagnosis, treatment, decisions, or actions made in reliance upon any advice or information contained on this blog. No warranties, express or implied, are made on the information that is provided.

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