Professor Mike Lean and Donnie Maclean, founder and managing director of food company Eat Balanced, created the pizza after analyzing existing pizzas and finding them to be nutritionally lacking.
Prof Lean, Chair of Nutrition in the School of Medicine, who worked with colleague Dr Emilie Combet-Aspray on the project, said: “We analysed existing pizzas on the market and found them to be nutritionally junk, so we designed a range of new pizza recipes which all meet nutritional targets for a healthy meal, and also contain 30 per cent of vitamin and mineral needs.
“We did a pizza-tasting, with children and adults at the Glasgow Science Festival and 80% said that it tasted at least as good, or better than their usual pizzas. It looks and tastes just like a pizza!
“We have proved it can be done, using simple ingredients, and set the challenge to manufacturers. What is the justification for ignoring nutrition?”
The pizzas created by the duo have familiar toppings such as ham & pineapple and spicy chicken but have certain additions to make them healthier.
For example, the pizza base is flecked with seaweed which has a much lower sodium content and minerals such as iodine and vitamin B12, while red pepper incorporated into the tomato sauce increases vitamin C levels. Each pizza – which will only be available as frozen because that was shown to be the best way to preserve its healthy ingredients – also contains quantities of magnesium, potassium, folates and vitamin A.
Mr Maclean said: “We focused on pizza being a lunch or a dinner option so each pizza gives a complete meal with all the nutrients in it for 30 per cent of your day.
“Our pizzas are more expensive than most other frozen pizzas but on a par with chilled pizzas, so it shouldn’t be a hard pill to swallow, or a hard pizza to eat.”
One of the major UK supermarket groups has already expressed interested in stocking the pizza and Mr Maclean is in talks with other supermarkets and catering suppliers.
The pair want to tackle other junk food classics, including creating a nutritionally balanced curry and then fish and chips.
Prof Lean said: “The idea that an overall balanced diet is best achieved by ensuring that each meal is nutritionally balanced is something I have been working on for years.
“If you go along to a supermarket or a restaurant and buy a meal, then somebody should have thought about it nutritionally.
“We’ve recently studied ready meals produced by the top five supermarkets in Scotland – common foods eaten in huge numbers – and they are hopelessly unbalanced.
“They contain as much salt as you should have in a whole day or more. They contains as much saturated fat as you should have in a whole day or more. The nutrients we need every day are absent from these meals. Nobody has thought about it, so I got together with Donnie to try to do this.”
The project between the Prof Lean, Dr Combet and Donnie Maclean of Eat Balanced was supported by a £5000 ‘First Step Award’, which included £2,000 from the Scottish Government, under the University of Glasgow First Step Award Scheme, a £2.3m initiative to stimulate academic and industrial engagement. They are now writing up the work as a scientific paper which they hope to have published soon.
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First Step Awards