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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Fast Food Wars: Papa John's

Papa John’s is the third pizza restaurant to be subjected to analysis in the Fast Food Wars. According to the Papa John’s Wikipedia entry, Papa John’s is the third largest take-out and delivery pizza restaurant chain in the U.S. behind Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza. Internationally, there are over 3,300 Papa John's establishments, including over 2,600 in the U.S. and more than 500 in over 30 other countries

As a reminder, the analyses conducted below are based on a formula I created called the UHI (UnHealthy Index). The UHI is calculated by taking the six most common nutritional concerns that people have (total calories, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates), adding them together, and dividing by six. Higher UHI scores reflect unhealthier foods and scores closer to zero (i.e., water) reflect healthier foods.

For the pizza analysis, keep in mind that Papa John’s makes pies in an original crust version and a thin crust version. The thin crust version only comes in one size (14”) whereas the original crust version comes in sizes of 8”, 10”, 12”, 14”, and 16. In general, the higher larger the pizza, the larger the UHI will be. All specialty pizzas advertised on the Papa John’s website were analyzed for both original crust and thin crust. All pizza analyses below were performed based on a serving size being equal to ONE SLICE.

UNHEALTHIEST FOODS OVERALL:

First, let’s start with the five foods on the Papa John’s menu with the highest UHI scores. By far, the absolute unhealthiest food you can purchase at Papa John’s is the...

1. 16” The Meats Pizza, original crust. It contains pepperoni, sausage, beef, hickory-smoked bacon, and ham. One slice of this bad boy has 400 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 mg of cholesterol, 1100 mg of salt, and 40 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI score: 264.47.

2. 16” Hawaiin BBQ Chicken, original crust. This pizza is covered in barbeque sauce, grilled all-white chicken, hickory-smoked bacon and fresh-sliced onions, then topped with sweet pineapple .Total calories: = 370, saturated fat = 5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 35 grams, sodium = 1080 mg, carbohydrates = 49 grams. Total UHI = 256.5.

3. 16” BBQ chicken and Bacon, original crust. Tangy barbeque sauce and piled high with grilled all-white chicken, hickory-smoked bacon and fresh-sliced onions. Total calories: = 371, saturated fat = 5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 35 grams, sodium = 1080 mg, carbohydrates = 48 grams. Total UHI = 256.3.

4. 16" Spicy Italian, original crust. Pepperoni and a double portion of spicy Italian sausage. Total calories = 400, saturated fat = 8 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 40 grams, sodium = 1040 mg, carbohydrates = 41 grams. Total UHI = 254.8.

5. 14" The Meats, original crust. Total calories = 370, saturated fat = 7 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 40 grams, sodium = 1050 mg, carbohydrates = 38 grams. Total UHI = 251. This means that you can buy any of the 16” pizzas except those mentioned above and the choice will be healthier than ordering a 14” The Meats Pizza.

UNHEALTHIEST ITEMS BY NUTRITIONAL CATEGORY:

Highest calories: 580 (Cinnamon Sweetsticks; 4 pieces). Fresh, hand-tossed dough topped with sweet cinnamon spread, drizzled with white icing and then oven-baked

Highest saturated fat: 8 grams (14” The Meats original crust, 14” Spicy Italian original crust, and 14” The Meats thin crust)

Highest trans fat: NONE. Papa John’s reports using no trans fats in any of their food products. Good job!

Highest cholesterol: 50 g (BBQ wings, Buffalo wings, honey chipotle wings). Serving size is every two wings.

Highest sodium: 1100 mg (14” The Meats original crust)

Highest carbohydrates: 98 grams (Cinnamon Sweetsticks, 4 sticks).

UNHEALTHIEST APPETIZERS AND SIDE ITEMS:

1. The unhealthiest appetizer or side item you can purchase at Papa John's are the

cheese sticks. Every 4 pieces contain 370 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 860 mg of salt, and 41 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI score: 218.83.

2. BBQ wings: Total calories = 170, saturated fat = 3 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 50 grams, sodium = 1070 mg, carbohydrates = 3 grams. Total UHI = 216. Serving size: 2 wings.

3. Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks: Total calories = 340, saturated fat = 1.5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 0 grams, sodium = 720 mg, carbohydrates = 54 grams. Total UHI = 185.92. Serving size: 2 sticks.

4. Buffalo Wings: Total calories = 190, saturated fat = 3 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 50 grams, sodium = 760 mg, carbohydrates = 6 grams. Total UHI = 168.16. Serving size: 2 wings.

5. Breadsticks: Total calories = 290, saturated fat = 0.5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 0 grams, sodium = 540 mg, carbohydrates = 54 grams. Total UHI = 147.42. Serving size: 2 sticks.

Note: Papa John’s only has 6 side items and appetizers. This leaves the chickenstrips as the healthiest side item/appetizer. Total calories = 130, saturated fat = 0.5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 25 grams, sodium = 430 mg, carbohydrates = 10 grams. Total UHI = 99.25. Serving size: 2 strips.
   
DESSERTS:

Papa John’s has three desserts to choose from. The unhealthiest are the Cinnamon Sweetsticks with a UHI of 237.08. In the middle is the Cinnapie with a UHI of 199.33. The healthiest desert is the apple pie with a UHI of 182.08. Serving size for each of these desserts is 4 sticks.

DIPPING SAUCES:

Papa John’s has 8 dipping sauces to choose from. By far the most unhealthiest dipping sauce is the Buffalo sauce, with a UHI of 174.5. This is because it has 1030 mg of sodium! None of the other sauces even come close, with the 2nd highest UHI coming from the garlic sauce (77.1). The healthiest dipping sauce is the cheese sauce, with a UHI of 34.5. The second healthiest is the pizza sauce with a UHI of 42.17.

HEALTHIEST FOODS OVERALL:


1. The healthiest item you can purchase at Papa John's (excluding beverages and dipping sauces) is the

10” Garden Fresh pizza. The pizza contains fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, ripe black olives and juicy, and fresh-sliced Roma tomatoes. Each slice has only 140 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 350 mg of salt, and 20 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 87.

Note: In general, analyses show that 10”pizzas have a higher UHI than 8” pizzas. Other exceptions are the 10” cheese pizza (UHI: 110) and the 8” cheese pizza (112) as well as the 10” spicy Italian (UHI: 150) and the 8” spicy Italian (UHI: 153).

2. Two chicken strips. Total calories = 130, saturated fat = 0.5 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 25 grams, sodium = 430 mg, carbohydrates = 10 grams. Total UHI = 99.25. Serving size: 2 strips.

3. 8” Garden Fresh pizza. Every slice has 180 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 440 mg of salt, and 26 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 110.

4. 8” Spinach Alfredo pizza. This pizza has a rich and creamy blend of spinach and garlic Parmesan Alfredo sauce. Every slice 190 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 420 mg of salt, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 110.

5. 10” Cheese pizza. Each slice has 180 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 440 mg of salt, and 25 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 110.

Note: Soft drinks were not subject to analysis.

From the Papa John’s website:

Menu items may vary by restaurant.

The nutrient value of our products may vary based on the local supplier, region of the country, season of the year, and/or slight variations in product assembly. Nutritional data is derived from information provided by Papa John's suppliers and from testing conducted in accredited laboratories.

For additional nutritional facts regarding Papa John's menu items, call 888-404-7537 and select option 1.

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