Is Pizza High In Cholesterol? Answered By A Heart Dietitian

While there is no doubt surrounding pizza’s popularity, some questions may arise regarding its impact on human health. For example, is pizza high in cholesterol and can it fit into a low-cholesterol diet?

This article will answer just that, along with breaking down what cholesterol really is, the cholesterol content of different pizza ingredients, the dos and don’ts when it comes to pizza, is pizza bad for cholesterol, and much more!

Top Takeaways

  • Cholesterol is an important consideration for heart health, with LDL cholesterol (bad) needing to be reduced and HDL cholesterol (good) increased.
  • The cholesterol content of pizza varies based on factors like the type of crust, cheese, and toppings used, with store-bought and frozen pizzas generally having higher cholesterol due to saturated fats.
  • Ingredient choices play a crucial role in managing pizza’s impact on cholesterol, with options like whole grain crust, lean proteins, and veggies helping to create a healthier pizza.
  • While pizza can contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels due to certain ingredients, making informed choices and practicing moderation can allow it to be part of a heart-healthy diet.

Understanding Cholesterol & Heart Disease

Cholesterol is a waxy substance critical for our body’s functions. It can be categorized into two main types including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, as high levels can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries. Alternatively, HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol, as it helps in removing excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.

In order to minimize the risk of heart disease and promote heart health, LDL cholesterol should be decreased, and HDL cholesterol should be increased. This balance can be achieved through diet and choosing foods that can unclog arteries (1).

Our dietary choices significantly influence cholesterol levels. Saturated fats, for example, can increase LDL cholesterol levels (1). These fats are commonly found in animal meat, full-fat dairy, butter, and tropical oils.

Additionally, dietary cholesterol found in animal-based foods like eggs and shellfish can also contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels in individuals but to a much lesser extent than saturated fat. Saturated fat is the true culprit. 

By making conscious choices to reduce your intake of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, huge strides can be made towards maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Is Pizza High In Cholesterol?

Does pizza have cholesterol? Yes. But before we answer the question “Is pizza high in cholesterol?” We must first consider where the pizza is coming from. 

This is because how much cholesterol in a slice of pizza varies. The cholesterol in pizza can largely vary depending on the method of preparation and the ingredients used. Let’s dive into the details. 

Store Bought Pizza

Store-bought pizza’s cholesterol content can vary depending on the type of crust, cheese, and toppings used. Typically, the cheeses and processed meats commonly found on these pizzas can contribute to higher cholesterol levels because they are higher in saturated fat (2).

Checking nutrition labels can help you choose options with a lower saturated fat and cholesterol content.

Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizzas are known for their convenience; however, they are often higher in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol due to the use of processed ingredients and added fat in the pizza crust like butter or shortening.

Homemade Pizza

The cholesterol content of homemade pizza largely depends on the ingredients used. Because there is much more control over the types of crust, cheese, and toppings; healthier choices can be made.

Using whole grain crust, lean proteins, and limited amounts of cheese and/or lower fat cheeses, can help create a homemade pizza lower in cholesterol.

Restaurant Pizza

Restaurant pizzas come in a wide range of varieties from thin crust to deep dish and are loaded with diverse toppings. While some restaurant pizzas might be made with fresher and leaner ingredients, they can also be high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, largely due to excessive amounts of fatty meats and cheeses.

Remaining aware of ingredient choices is key when it comes to ordering restaurant pizzas lower in cholesterol.

Image of Veronica Rouse with Free 7 day heart healthy meal plan freebie.

Is Pizza High In Cholesterol? Pizza Ingredients & Their Cholesterol Content


Pizza crust primarily constitutes carbohydrates, with a cholesterol impact linked to the type of carbohydrate chosen. Opting for a whole grain crust over white crust can provide more dietary fiber, thus lowering the overall cholesterol content (1).


Traditional pizza sauces generally have a lower cholesterol content due to the simple ingredients used including tomatoes and seasonings. 

It is important to be mindful when using highly processed sauces or dairy-based sauces as these options contain a much higher saturated fat content, and thus may raise your LDL cholesterol.

Be sure to check out this low sodium pizza sauce which is a heart healthy alternative! 


Cheese is rich in both saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, therefore, it’s important to focus on the types and quantities used when consuming pizza. 

Choosing cheeses lower in fat, such as part-skim mozzarella, using pesto instead of cheese and/or being mindful of portion sizes can help mitigate your saturated fat intake.


Meat Toppings

Meat toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, and bacon that are commonly found on pizzas are often high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Consuming these in moderation or opting for leaner meat choices is a much more proactive way to incorporate pizza in a heart healthy diet.

Instead, check out Low Cholesterol High Protein Foods To Include In A Heart Healthy Diet for alternatives.

Veggie Toppings

Vegetable toppings are typically low in cholesterol and saturated fats and offer a wealth of other essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, plant sterols, and antioxidants. Load up a variety of veggies on your pizza for added health benefits.

Adding more vegetables increases adherence to heart healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet, DASH dietlow cholesterol dietMIND diet, and portfolio diet.  


Ingredients such as anchovies, sardines and olives can also impact cholesterol in a positive way as they contribute to your omega 3 intake for the day.  

Summary of pizza ingredients and their saturated fat and dietary cholesterol content:

IngredientsSaturated Fat and Cholesterol Content
CrustLow in saturated fat and cholesterol, opt for whole grain for additional benefits
SauceTraditional sauces are generally low in saturated fats and cholesterol, be sure to watch the sodium content if you are concerned about your blood pressure
CheeseTypically high in saturated fats and cholesterol, be mindful of types and quantity used
Meat ToppingsTypically high in saturated fats and cholesterol, choose lean meat options 
Vegetable ToppingsLow in saturated fats and cholesterol, include a variety for additional benefits

Factors That Contribute To A Pizza’s Cholesterol Level

As you’ve probably realized, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to a pizza’s cholesterol level. Below these factors are broken down and a conclusion is drawn regarding our initial question: is pizza high in cholesterol and can it fit into a low-cholesterol diet?

Ordering Out, Store Bought vs Homemade

Pizza obtained from restaurants or purchased in stores may contain higher cholesterol levels due to factors like larger portions, richer toppings, and greater variability in ingredients.

Homemade pizzas offer more control over ingredient choices and portion sizes, allowing for healthier alternatives.

Type And Amount Of Cheese

Cheese is one of the main ingredients that contributes to pizza’s cholesterol content. The type of cheese and the quantity used significantly influences cholesterol levels. Opting for leaner cheese options, alternative sauces like pesto and monitoring portions can help reduce overall cholesterol intake.

Selection Of Meat Toppings

Meat toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, and bacon often contain high levels of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Eliminating these portions or choosing leaner meats such as grilled chicken or turkey can help mitigate pizza’s impact on your cholesterol levels.

Use Of Additional Fatty Ingredients 

Ingredients such as creamy sauces contain a varying degree of extra saturated fats and cholesterol. Adding these elements to your pizza can elevate the overall cholesterol content, especially when used excessively.

Instead opt for unsaturated fats like olive oil

Cooking Method: Fried vs. Baked Crust

The cooking method of your pizza matters too. A fried or deep-fried crust can lead to higher levels of saturated fat. Opting for a baked crust can help keep the cholesterol content in check.

Summary: Does Pizza Have A Negative Effect On Cholesterol Levels?

While pizza can potentially contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels due to factors like cheese, meat toppings, and fatty ingredients, it’s not solely the pizza itself that matters.

By making informed choices, such as opting for whole grain crust, leaner toppings, and healthier cooking methods, the negative impact on cholesterol can be mitigated.

Moderation, balance, and mindful ingredient selection are key to enjoying pizza while maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

A Low Cholesterol Pizza Recipe Video

3 Take Away Pizzas You Should Avoid

Pizza Pizza: Meat Supreme

For one large slice, this pizza contains 40 mg of cholesterol and 5 g of saturated fat (3). This is largely due to the excessive amounts of animal products included such as pepperoni, bacon, sausage, ham, and cheese.

Pizza Hut: Cheese with Stuffed Crust

For one large slice, this pizza contains 30 mg of cholesterol and 5 g of saturated fat (4). Despite it being simply cheese pizza, the extra cheese in the crust significantly contributes to higher levels of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat.

Pizza Hut: Pepperoni

For one large slice, this pizza contains 35 mg of cholesterol and 7 g of saturated fat (5). Similar to the meat supreme, the meat and cheese are the number one culprits that raise the overall cholesterol and saturated fat content.

Healthier Pizza Choices For Heart-Conscious Consumers

An infographic on how to make healthier pizza choices.

For those mindful of their heart health, crafting a nutritious pizza without compromising on flavor is entirely possible. Here are some smarter choices to consider:

Opting For A Whole Grain, Thin Crust Or Cauliflower Crust

Opt for whole grain or whole wheat pizza, thin crust pizza, or even a trendy cauliflower crust. These alternatives provide more dietary fiber and fewer refined carbohydrates compared to traditional options, promoting better cholesterol management.

Reducing Cheese Or Choosing Low-Fat Versions

Trim down on cheese usage or go for low-fat cheese versions like mozzarella cheese. This not only reduces saturated fat intake but also allows other flavors to shine.

Picking Lean Meats Like Chicken Or Turkey Over Traditional High-Fat Meats

Swap out high-fat meats like pepperoni and sausage for leaner options such as grilled chicken, turkey or omega 3 rich fish like anchovies or sardines. This decreases saturated fat, contributing to a heart-healthy pizza.

Loading Up On Veggie Toppings For Added Nutrients Without The Cholesterol

Pile on colorful vegetable toppings for a burst of nutrients without the saturated fat. Plenty of vegetables like peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and other veggies enhance both taste and health benefits since they are anti-inflammatory.

Considering Homemade Options To Control Ingredients

Consider creating your own pizza masterpiece at home. This way, you’re in control of the ingredients, allowing you to select healthier options and control portion sizes.  Check out the recipes below!

Watch Portion Sizes

Be mindful of portion sizes. Even with healthier choices, consuming excessively large amounts can still contribute to a high cholesterol or saturated fat intake.

Health Benefits Of Eating Pizza

Contrary to popular belief, pizza can offer more than just a delightful taste. Below are some unexpected health benefits that will make you appreciate your favorite slice even more.

Cheese, a staple topping, is an excellent source of calcium. This essential mineral plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as supporting muscle contractions, normal heart rhythms, blood pressure, and nerve functions.

Veggies commonly found on pizzas such as peppers, tomatoes, and spinach are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. These nutrients contribute to improved health by offering a protective effect against chronic disease and healthy problems like heart diseasePAD, and stroke.

Opting for a whole grain crust and loads of veggies adds a healthy dose of dietary fiber to your pizza. Fiber helps your digestive tract stay healthy and decreases the production of bad cholesterol within the body.

Lastly, the act of eating pizza can also provide health benefits! Sharing pizza with loved ones can foster a sense of community and happiness. Engaging in these social meals will therefore contribute to reduced stress levels and enhanced well-being.

Dispelling Common Myths

Pizza has long been subjected to misconceptions, but it’s time to set the record straight on a couple of common myths.

Myth #1 – “All pizza is bad for your heart” 

Reality: Not all pizza is created equal.

While it’s true that certain pizzas such as those with excessive cheese and high-fat meat toppings can be detrimental to heart health, pizza’s potential should not be overlooked.

As discussed in this article, many heart-conscious choices can be made so that pizza can fit into a heart healthy diet!

This includes choosing a whole grain crust, reducing the amount of cheeses and meats used or opting for lower fat options, loading your pizza with veggies, using olive oil, and preparing your pizza at home!

Myth #2 “Only meat toppings contribute to cholesterol” 

Reality: Cholesterol sources on pizza are more diverse than you might think.

While meat toppings like pepperoni and sausage can indeed be high in saturated fats and cholesterol, they are not the sole culprits.

High fat cheese, particularly when used excessively, contributes significantly to cholesterol intake. Additionally, certain creamy sauces can also introduce extra saturated fats into your pizza.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pizza Bad For Cholesterol?

Pizza’s impact on cholesterol varies. Making mindful ingredient choices can make pizza a part of a heart-healthy diet.

Is Cheese Bad For High Cholesterol?

Cheese can be bad for high cholesterol because it is rich in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Choosing lower-fat cheese options and moderating portions is advisable.

Is Cheese Pizza Low In Cholesterol?

Cheese pizza contains dietary cholesterol, primarily from the cheese. The actual amount can vary depending on the type and quantity of cheese used.

Is Pizza Considered Unhealthy?

Pizza’s healthiness depends on ingredient choices. Pizzas with whole wheat crust, lean proteins, and plenty of veggies can be nutritious with low grams of fat.

Is Pizza Safe For People With High Cholesterol?

Pizza can be safe for people with high cholesterol. Smart ingredients like including whole grain crust, lean proteins, plenty of veggies and portion control are key.

Are There Specific Toppings I Should Avoid To Reduce Cholesterol In Pizza?

Toppings you should avoid to reduce cholesterol in pizza are high-fat meat toppings and excessive cheese.  These ingredients can be avoided or consumed in moderation to manage dietary cholesterol intake.

Does The Cooking Method Affect Cholesterol Levels In Pizza?

Cooking methods do affect the cholesterol levels in pizza. Baking crusts is healthier than frying or deep-frying, as it reduces the amount of saturated fat in the pizza.

Can The Type Of Cheese Affect The Cholesterol Content Of Pizza?

Yes, the type of cheese affects the cholesterol content of the pizza.  Full-fat cheeses contain more cholesterol than lower-fat options. Choosing wisely can help lower cholesterol intake.

Can I Find Nutritional Information About Pizza At Restaurants Or Pizzerias?

Yes, you can find nutritional information about pizza at restaurants or pizzerias. Many restaurants and pizzerias provide nutritional information on their menus or websites, helping you make informed choices.

How Much Cholesterol Does A Slice Of Pizza Have?

The cholesterol content of a slice of pizza can vary widely depending on the ingredients used. Generally, cheese and meat toppings contribute to the cholesterol content. Checking nutrition labels or asking for details at restaurants can provide specific information.

Recommendation: Can People With High Cholesterol Eat Pizza?

People with high cholesterol can indeed enjoy pizza, however, it requires thoughtful choices and moderation. Below are some recommendations to help you navigate pizza for high cholesterol.

Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between occasionally indulging in pizza versus its frequent consumption. Pizza can be a part of anyone’s diet, including those with high cholesterol, however it’s essential to consume it in moderation. 

Reserve it for special occasions rather than making it a regular part of your diet.

Whether ordering out, buying frozen, or making your own pizza, being informed about ingredient choices is crucial. Remember to opt for whole grain crust, lean proteins, and plenty of veggies to reduce cholesterol intake.

Even with healthier choices, portion control is crucial. Don’t overindulge in pizza but instead enjoy it as part of a well-balanced meal. This can be done by pairing your pizza with a side salad or veggie sticks.

Lastly, other lifestyle factors can also affect cholesterol. Smoking, lack of exercise, stress, alcohol, and being overweight or obese all contribute to higher cholesterol levels. 

Interested in learning more about lowering cholesterol with diet, read How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol With Diet?

Pizza Choices For A Low Cholesterol Diet

Pistachio Pesto Pizza– Snacking In Sneakers

An image of pistachio pesto pizza cut in slices, on top of a wooden board.

Low Cholesterol Pizza – The Heart Dietitian

An image of pizza on top of a wooden cutting board. The pizza is topped with sauce, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese.

Smoked Salmon Pizza With Goat Cheese– Garlic & Zest

Smoked salmon pizza with goat cheese and zucchini slices.

Lemon Ricotta Pizza– Snacking In Sneakers

Lemon ricotta pizza topped with spinach on a dish, being cut with a pizza cutter.

Tasty Sardine Pizza– The Heart Dietitian

Cooked sardine pizza on baking sheet, with browned pizza crust, melted mozzarella cheese, crispy tomato slices and large chunks of sardines, surrounded by a black and white checkered tea towel.

15 Oatmeal Recipes To Lower Cholesterol– The Heart Dietitian

Low sodium instant pot oatmeal presented in a white bowl topped with blueberries, sliced strawberries and greens.

Smoothies To Lower Cholesterol  – The Heart Dietitian

A Smoothie To Lower Cholesterol – The Heart Dietitian

A green smoothie to lower cholesterol featured in clear glass surrounded by a cut avocado, scattered blueberries and ground flaxseed

Final Thoughts

When discussing pizza in relation to heart health, it’s crucial to emphasize the significance of making heart-healthy choices. Does pizza have cholesterol? Yes. 

How much cholesterol in a slice of pizza? Well, this can be lowered by making a couple simple swaps, pizza can not only be a delightful indulgence but also a nutritious meal for those who have high cholesterol levels.

In the end, pizza can be more than just a guilty pleasure. Is pizza bad for cholesterol? Not always. It can be a source of nourishment and enjoyment that aligns with your heart-healthy lifestyle. The possibilities are endless, so go ahead and discover a pizza combination that both your taste buds and your heart will love. 

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you like to add to your pizza to make it heart healthy. 

3 thoughts on “Is Pizza High In Cholesterol? Answered By A Heart Dietitian”

  1. Thank you for addressing this common concern! As someone who loves pizza but also cares about my heart health, it’s reassuring to get insights from a heart dietitian. Balance is key, and it’s good to know how to enjoy pizza responsibly without worrying too much about cholesterol. Great article!

  2. It certainly was useful information when you told us that while some restaurants use fresh and lean ingredients for their pizzas, others might have pizzas high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, which is why we must remain aware of the ingredient choices when we order. I’ve been wanting to have pizza for dinner for weeks now, and since I have the day off tomorrow, I was thinking dinner later would be a good time to order a box while I catch up on shows I’m behind on. I’ll take note of this while I look for a pizza delivery restaurant in Winnipeg for me to contact regarding my dinner delivery later.

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