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Giuseppe Grane of the Punto di Incontro restaurant in Gricignano di Aversa, Italy, pulls a pizza Margherita from his traditional wood-fired brick oven.
Giuseppe Grane of the Punto di Incontro restaurant in Gricignano di Aversa, Italy, pulls a pizza Margherita from his traditional wood-fired brick oven. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Enjoy a slice of pizza. Better yet, eat pizza every week.

That’s what a recent study published by a Milan, Italy-based pharmacological institute in the International Journal of Cancer seems to be promoting.

According to the report, people who eat pizza on a regular basis have their chances of getting a digestive tract cancer significantly reduced.

A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health also shows a strong link with the consumption of tomato-based foods and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Tomato paste, tomato sauce and juice — even pizza — show the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in women, the Harvard study found.

The reason is that the human body can better absorb a powerful antioxidant called lycopene in cooked and processed tomatoes to protect itself against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Pizza, a common staple in Naples, Italy, has been around since the late nineteenth century. The local Brandi Pizzeria invented the Pizza Margherita in 1889 in honor of then-Italian Queen Margherita and still sells it today. Americans know it as a cheese pizza, although the Naples version has a thinner crust, less cheese and less sauce.

“They put no preservatives in their pizza; it’s made right there,” said Chief Petty Officer David Muehlhauser of base security, after a pizza lunch. “I think American pizza can kill you with the amount of oil they put into it.”

The list of ingredients for an Italian pizza even sounds healthy: Fresh dough, fresh tomatoes and herbs for the sauce, fresh cheese and fresh vegetables.

“I believe it,” said Sorrento, Italy-native Charlie DiPalma, supervisor for the base’s Capo Landing food court and club.

“My cousin is an oncologist [a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer and tumors] and always told me the best nutrition is in the pizza sauces. ”

But don’t run out and order that large cheese-in-the-crust, sausage-and-pepperoni deep-dish pie just yet.

“I have a hard time buying that [pizza lowers the risk of cancer],” Lt. j.g. Margaret Faulkner, a dietician at Naval Hospital Naples said. “Neapolitan pizza can be nutritious, but everything needs to be done in moderation.”

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