Food science professor helps to create healthy pizza

05 November 2013

Professor Kofi Aidoo tested the nutritionally-balanced pizza

Professor Kofi Aidoo tested the nutritionally-balanced pizza

The high level of salt and saturated fat in the modern pizza has turned many people’s favourite dish into a health hazard - but now a team of scientists, including GCU’s Professor Kofi Aidoo, has developed a fully nutritionally-balanced version of the dish.

The team – which also included Glasgow University’s Professor Mike Lean, Dr Emilie Combet, Amandine Jarlot, and GCU research technician Fiona Alexander – set out to discover the nutritional content and quality of contemporary pizzas and to show that pizza can be reformulated to make it the basis of a fully nutritionally-balanced meal.

Unsurprisingly, the team discovered that most commercially available pizzas fail to meet dietary guidelines.

Working with Donnie Maclean of food producer EatBalanced.com, the team then developed a range of new pizza recipes - each containing 30% of all the nutrients required in a day.

Kofi Aidoo, Professor of Food Science in GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences, tested the new product.

He said: “We worked with the Glasgow University team to evaluate the nutritional contents of a newly developed, nutritionally balanced food at GCU’s UKAS accredited laboratory.

“It is the only University-based laboratory in the UK working towards the international standards for nutritional analysis and shelf life evaluation of food and food ingredients.”

To make the nutritionally-balanced pizza, the team modified a modern recipe: reducing salt, adding whole-wheat flour and a small amount of Scottish seaweed to provide flavour, vitamin B12 and fibre, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine. They also added red peppers to provide extra vitamin C.

The proportions of bread base to Mozzarella cheese was adjusted to correct the carbohydrate/fat/protein ratios and minimize saturated fat content.

The resulting pizza was then analysed in the GCU laboratory, to check its healthy eating credentials, and put to a public taste test, where it received positive reviews.

GCU’s accredited laboratory has provided analytical services to over 100 SMEs and major food manufacturers in the UK and the EU since its inception.

The world’s first nutritionally-balanced pizzas were subsequently marketed by food company Eat Balanced.com, and three recipes are available from various UK supermarkets.

The study ‘Development of a nutritionally-balanced pizza, as a functional meal designed to meet published dietary guidelines’, is published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.