Stop Blotting Your Pizza

Nutritionists address the age-old dilemma of pizza eaters

Emily Moon
Elemental
Published in
4 min readJan 20, 2020

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Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

AsAs long as there’s been pizza, there have been debates about the best way to eat it. Folding it lengthwise is okay. Fork-and-knifing it is utter nonsense. But what about blotting the layer of grease found on a particularly cheesy slice? It looks weird, but does it have any health benefits?

“This is the age-old question of pizza eaters,” says Rachel E. Scherr, assistant research scientist in the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “Does blotting pizza make a difference? Is it worth it?”

Generally, nutritionists agree that patting pizza with a napkin results in less fat, and less fat means fewer calories. “By blotting off the grease, you’re going to reduce the number of calories consumed per slice of pizza,” says Dale A. Schoeller, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “That’s likely to be good [for people who] have an issue with consuming too many calories per day.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ healthy eating patterns survey, most Americans exceed the dietary guidelines’ suggestions for saturated fats, and many consume more than the recommended number of calories.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean victory for the blotters. “The bottom line is yes, you [remove] some level of fat and calories from blotting,” says Caroline Passerrello, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. However, Passerrello cautions that whatever you remove would be minimal, although no researcher has quantified exactly how much. Plus, for people triggered by counting calories, fixating on a small amount of fat could be a health risk in and of itself.

The merits of blotting are likely overblown. Part of this is because it’s difficult to tell the source of the fat you’re wiping up.

Scherr, who’s also an expert in nutrition misinformation, says blotting is not as nefarious as some fads and health claims that come across her desk — laxative teas promising to “detox” your system, for example — but the science is still hazy, and the merits of…

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Emily Moon
Elemental

Emily Moon is a New York-based journalist writing about health and culture. Previously she was a staff writer at Pacific Standard.