Cauliflower has been a magical shapeshifter in the low-carb world, able to manifest itself as many other popular foods including rice, oatmeal, and probably most magical of all: pizza crust. But is cauliflower pizza crust healthy? POPSUGAR asked registered dietitian Rhyan Geiger, RDN, to weigh in.
Why Are People So Obsessed With Cauliflower Pizza?
Cauliflower everything has been on the rise for the last few years, and this is likely because of the health halo that has been surrounding cauliflower products, Geiger explained. "A health halo is a perception that a particular food is healthy even when there is little or no evidence showing it to be true," she said. Cauliflower itself is healthy since it's a low-carb, fibre-rich cruciferous veggie, which has been shown to be preventative against certain types of cancers. But it's often added to products only because of its popularity in being low-carb, not for its health benefits. "I do think it's great that people are wanting to eat more vegetables with this trend," she said.
Is Cauliflower Pizza Healthier Than Regular Pizza?
Companies use the health halo of cauliflower to their advantage, but if you look at the ingredients list on cauliflower-crust pizzas, cauliflower isn't the only ingredient. It is a flour (often refined flour!) crust with cauliflower added, Geiger explained, and often cheese and egg are added as a binder and to make the crust softer, which increases the cholesterol and saturated fat. Processed food any way you look at it is still processed and not the healthiest option.
The calorie amount and healthfulness also depend on the toppings added. If your cauliflower crust is loaded with extra cheese, sausage, pepperoni, buffalo chicken, or ranch dressing, it's still a high-calorie, high-fat pizza. Because of these toppings, there's not much difference in the nutritional composition when compared to regular pizza, because cauliflower-crust pizza isn't low in calories or fat and still contains carbs. So this means eating it often likely won't help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Homemade cauliflower crust or store-bought crust that is mostly cauliflower can be a healthy option, though, Geiger said. If you want to make your own, try this vegan cauliflower-crust recipe made from a whole head of cauliflower, almond meal, and herbs.
Any Pizza Can Be Healthy; Here's How
All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. It just depends on how often and how much a person eats, Geiger said. Eating high-calorie, high-fat pizza (cauliflower or regular) every day wouldn't be recommended, but having pizza every once in a while is fine. To make pizza healthier, try eating fewer slices with half the plate being some type of vegetable, and go for homemade as often as possible. "Add a variety of vegetables to your pizza toppings, and skip out on high-fat processed items like meats and cheese," she also suggested. Adding veggies like mushrooms, red peppers, onions, and tomatoes to your pizza will increase the fibre and make it more filling without adding tons of calories.