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Make Your Own Low-Sodium Pizza

Posted by Benny Traub on

Delicious and Healthy Alternative Italian Favorite

The basics of a pizza are fairly simple, and generally are healthful ingredients. There's the crust, the sauce, the meat, the cheese, and the seasonings. That's where the "basics" end and the creative juices can begin flowing.

While you may have given up a weekly visit to Pizza Hut, California Pizza, Sbarro's, or Domino's, it is not the end of the world. You can put together a heart-healthy and fantastic tasting pizza that has half the sodium of the average cheese (no meat) pizza at any of these pizza parlors - and this recipe includes meat!

The Basic Pizza Ingredients and Their Sodium Content

  • Pizza Shell (one medium pizza for two people) - look for Mama Mary's which has 186 mgs of sodium for 1/4 of 10" crust. The average of other brands (i.e. Boboli) for 1/5 of crust (one slice) averages 330 mg of sodium.
  • Pizza-style tomato sauce – Ragu's Pizza Sauce Homestyle has 260 mgs per 2.2 oz serving (compared to their Pizza Quick Traditional which has 380 mgs). Other brands may go as high as 780 to 800 mgs. of sodium.
  • Olive oil (extra-virgin) or canola oil - zero milligrams of sodium

Meat Toppings

  • Ground Beef – 90% lean, 85 mg sodium per 3 oz serving
  • Chicken – thigh meat, skinless, broiled, 46 mgs per thigh; white meat 3 oz. broiled, skinless, 64 mgs per serving
  • Italian sweet sausage – Perdue turkey sausage, grilled, 490 mgs per 3 oz serving (regular Italian sweet sausage may have up to 900 mgs per 3 oz serving.)
  • Pepperoni – hard to find a "low-sodium" brand, but Wegman's Italian Classic deli Italian sausage is 480 mgs per 1 oz. serving. Use very sparingly, if you must!

Fruit and Vegetable Toppings

  • Onions - 0
  • Fresh tomatoes – 1 mg per thin small slice (.5 oz)
  • Mushrooms - 0
  • Artichoke hearts – 1/2 cup boiled, drained, no salt added, 80 mgs sodium
  • Pineapple - 0
  • Fresh basil - 0
  • Fresh spinach – 8 mg
  • Pesto – 1/4 cup, 720 mgs (may vary by brand, but is very salty.)
  • Pine nuts - 0


  • Provolone – Sargento, regular, full-fat, 1 slice (.7 oz) – 125 mgs sodium (reduced fat is 140 mgs) Alpine Lace Reduced Fat & Sodium – 190 mgs. (per 1 oz); shredded – Sargento Aged 1/4 cup – 240 mgs.
  • Mozzarella – fresh, 1 oz balls, 20 mgs. Kraft Natural Shredded, 2% Milkfat, 200mgs per 1 oz. Most part-skim mozzarella is between 175 and 200 mgs per oz.
  • Swiss Cheese – 1 oz. slice, 54 mgs; shredded, 1 cup (3.8 oz) 207 mgs
  • Parmesan – 1 tablespoon grated, 76 mgs (.2oz)

Toppings to be Avoided

  • Anchovies
  • Capers
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Hot Italian sausage
  • deli meats like ham, bologna, salami, bacon

Recipe for Home-Made Low-Sodium Pizza

Prepare your pizza oven.

  1. Use one 10" shell, brushed with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Spread half of a jar of pizza sauce (7 oz.) over entire crust.
  2. Slice fresh tomato thinly, approximately eight slices, and place four on each half/side of pizza. (Two per slice).
  3. Slice the onion thinly, and separate the ring sections individually; place around pizza evenly.
  4. Brown 1/3 pound (approx. 6 oz) hamburger, (or use one cooked chicken thigh or 1/2 cooked chicken breast, skinless). Drain and distribute the finely-broken up ground beef around the pizza surface.
  5. Top with broken-up pieces of one slice of provolone, 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, or 1 oz fresh mozzarella. A combination of any of these is okay if you are careful to measure and take into account all amounts of sodium.
  6. Pineapple chunks, mushrooms, fresh basil leaves, and Italian spices such as oregano, basil, and black pepper, may be added to taste.

Grill the pizza directly on the oven rack placed in the center of the oven. Set the temperature according to directions on the package (start at 450 degrees, to preheat the oven, turn down to 425 and cook for 7-10 minutes.) Cut into 6 slices, 2 slices per serving. Serves 2-3.

Sodium totals will vary depending on the toppings you choose. The basic combination of sauce, olive oil, ground beef, tomato, onion, and Swiss cheese will be approximately 1100 mgs of sodium for 2 slices. If your diet restricts you to 2000 mgs daily or less, this is the amount in half a day's allowance. A half of a cheese pizza (no meat) at a pizza fast-food chain averages 2100 mgs of sodium.

The pleasure in making your own low-sodium pizza is in the variety of toppings you can add to add interest to your diet, while being in control of your sodium intake. You don't have to deny yourself the yumminess of "real" pizza!

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