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Ugly Side Effects of Eating Pizza, According to Science

A slice or two is fine, but what happens if you go overboard?
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

While pizza presents a mixed bag when it comes to delivering nutrition (especially because there are so many ways to eat healthy pizza and lose weight), you definitely don't want to overindulge in this treat. Pizza can present some decent nutrition when served up in the right form, but like most other foods, you can easily overdo this junk food. If you enjoy pizza but eat too much of it, you can face some ugly side effects of pizza that could lead to serious damage to your health.

When you want to take it easy on your body, avoid that extra slice of pizza to dodge these 6 terrible ugly side effects of eating pizza. And for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out this list of 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Weight gain

Woman grabbing slice of cheese pizza with pepperoni meat lovers

Because pizza is high in carbs and fat and doesn't include a ton of fiber (unless it's made with a whole-grain crust, and loaded with vegetables), you'll likely still feel hungry after eating a slice. A recent study found that our bodies are surprisingly good at overindulging in food—especially with something as tasty as pizza. Without anything on the pizza to keep you feeling full—like filling up on high-fiber foods and lean proteins—you'll likely overindulge because your body won't recognize that it's full, making pizza a food that can seriously pack on the pounds. Plus, after remembering how many empty calories end up in a slice of pizza, anyone can resist the urge to pick up a second slice.

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Increased risk of heart disease

detroit style pizza

According to Domino's, you can easily top off any size of pizza with enough saturated fat to do some real damage on your arteries in the form of sausage, pepperoni, extra cheese, and more. This comes as unwelcome news to anyone with a family history of heart failure, or anyone who simply wants to avoid unnecessary plaque buildup around their arteries. According to the American Heart Association, you can find a ton of saturated fats in red meats and cheese. So if you love these toppings, don't go heavy on the meats (maybe just choose one!) and add in a few vegetables as a topping instead, so you can steer clear of ruining your heart health.

After discovering which side effects pizza can dish out, check out the Ugly Side Effects of Eating French Fries, According to Science to avoid even greater health consequences.

Possibility of worse skin

greasy pizza

One of the ugly side effects of eating pizza actually can appear right on our faces. Although The Atlantic debunked the myth that pizza gives you acne because of its grease, there are other elements to that slice that aren't doing your dermatological problems any favors. Foods with high sugar contents and high glycemic indexes can potentially cause severe cases of acne.

In a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a correlation appeared between eating carbs and developing worse acne. These results complemented a similar study, finding that a low-carb diet can help clear up skin. So don't take the risk and accumulate some extra acne just for the sake of overeating a few more pieces of pizza.

Vulnerability to cancer

leftover pizza slices

A ton of foods slip extra carcinogens into our lifestyle, and pizza's presence in our life can do some real damage. A variety of studies featured in The Guardian found that the chemicals used to process pork (such as pepperoni) can lead to an untimely grave due to increasing the risk of a variety of cancers. Red meat on its own can do some real cancerous damage, even without the help of added chemicals. A study published in the Nutrition and Cancer Journal found a link between colon cancer and eating too much red meat, which should make anyone take extra caution when they order a meat lover's pizza.

When you want to avoid the risk of consuming carcinogens, whip up a healthy pie with the help of 8 Healthy Homemade Pizzas Better Than Takeout.

Higher chances of stroke

frozen pizza

Keeping sodium down should come as a major priority for anyone looking to say healthy, and overdoing it on the salt can lead to some terrible health consequences. Unfortunately, pizza comes loaded with sodium. According to a study published by Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, increased salt intake leads to strokes, making pizza a major risk. The American Heart Association recommends that no one consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day in order to bypass this risk. The average sodium count of a slice of pizza clocks in at anywhere from 600 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per slice, so instead of overdoing it on more slices, pair it with a big side salad instead to avoid this ugly side effect due to high sodium consumption.

Raised blood pressure

pizza box

Eating too much sodium doesn't just lead to strokes. According to the Cleveland Clinic, salt levels can lead straight to hypertension, and you really don't want to encounter this dangerous side effect. According to the American Heart Association, this condition in its most extreme form can lead to early death. So it's best to avoid that extra slice and fill the other half of your plate with high-fiber vegetables instead.

Help lower your risk of high blood pressure and check out 20 Healthiest Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich
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