Health

Italian Scientist Awarded Spoof Prize for His Research On Pizza

Silvao Gallus found that consuming pizza made with traditional ingredients protects against some chronic diseases.

Adding extra virgin olive oil to traditional Neopolitan pizza. Photo courtesy of Enzo Coccia
Sep. 23, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Adding extra virgin olive oil to traditional Neopolitan pizza. Photo courtesy of Enzo Coccia

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Ital­ian sci­en­tist Sil­vao Gal­lus was recently awarded the satir­i­cal 2019 Ig Nobel Prize” for Med­i­cine for his research into the health ben­e­fits of pizza.

From this research, Gal­lus con­cluded that eat­ing pizza made with ingre­di­ents from the Mediter­ranean diet can pro­tect from some chronic dis­eases. Gal­lus, who is affil­i­ated with the Mario Negri Insti­tute in Milan and the Uni­ver­sity of Maas­tricht, wore a pizza embla­zoned t‑shirt to the awards cer­e­mony at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Sanders The­ater.

We found that pizza con­sump­tion in Italy was pro­tec­tive for many chronic dis­eases that are known to be influ­enced by diet: diges­tive tract can­cers and infarc­tion.- Sil­vao Gal­lus, win­ner of Ig Nobel Prize for Med­i­cine

The Ig Nobel Prize, which have been run­ning for 29 years, is a joint ini­tia­tive between the Annals of Improb­a­ble Research and Har­vard Uni­ver­sity. All prizes are awarded for real achieve­ments and sci­en­tific research which, makes peo­ple laugh and then makes them think.”

Improbable Research

Gal­lus was delighted to receive his cer­tifi­cate, tro­phy and $10 tril­lion Zim­bab­wean dol­lars (which is no longer in use) from a gen­uine Nobel Lau­re­ate.

See more: Health News

I am hon­ored to have obtained this achieve­ment for a bizarre but impor­tant award,” he told a packed audi­ence. A good pizza com­prises all the virtues of the Mediter­ranean Diet.”

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Before his accep­tance speech was, in cus­tom­ary fash­ion, cut short by a young girl wan­der­ing onto the stage com­plain­ing, please stop. I’m bored.” He man­aged to add, we found that pizza con­sump­tion in Italy was pro­tec­tive for many chronic dis­eases that are known to be influ­enced by diet: diges­tive tract can­cers and infarc­tion.”

Gal­lus, who heads the lab­o­ra­tory of lifestyle epi­demi­ol­ogy at the Isti­tuto di Ricerche Far­ma­co­logiche Mario Negri, has led three stud­ies on the health ben­e­fits of pizza, which led him to con­clude that the iconic Ital­ian dish warded off heart attacks and some forms of can­cer.

Gal­lus was adamant that the ingre­di­ents needed to be Mediter­ranean and not as he termed, made accord­ing to for­eign inter­pre­ta­tions.”

Enzo Coc­cia, a Neapoli­tan mas­ter pizza maker who runs a renowned pizza acad­emy and a cou­ple of restau­rants in Naples told Olive Oil Times he was delighted to hear of Gal­lus’ Ig award.

It is good news for Ital­ian piz­zaioli because it could be a pulse to spread some typolo­gies of piz­zas made with these top­pings to pro­pose to cus­tomers,” he said.

Coc­cia also said that although he had not met Gal­lus in per­son he was fully aware of the scientist’s research into the health ben­e­fits of pizza and was look­ing for­ward to being intro­duced to him.

Coc­cia paid trib­ute to Gal­lus for con­tin­u­ing the work of Ancel Keys who first defined the Mediter­ranean diet and remained a strong advo­cate of it until his death at the age of 100 in 2004.

Sil­vao Gal­lus has con­tin­ued the work of Ancel Keys on the Mediter­ranean diet, because in 2006 in research in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Can­cer Pre­ven­tion, he wrote about the ben­e­fits of lycopene in tomato, antiox­i­dants in extra vir­gin olive oil, min­eral salts and vit­a­mins in some veg­eta­bles.”

In 1958, Keys launched the pio­neer­ing Seven Coun­tries Study” which was one of the first to attribute the Mediter­ranean diet with improv­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar health.

Coc­cia went on to dis­cuss the impor­tant role of olive oil in pizza mak­ing say­ing, Extra vir­gin olive oil is fun­da­men­tal because it rep­re­sents a link between the ingre­di­ents that make the pizza. If I make a dish of dough (focac­cia) and put in it a light fruity oil with a del­i­cate scent and add oregano and gar­lic, I have cre­ated a mas­ter­piece.”

In 2017, Neapoli­tan pizza twirling made head­lines when it was UNESCO World Her­itage sta­tus and was added to the orga­ni­za­tion’s Lists of Intan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage.

In 2010, Naples Pizza was approved for a tra­di­tional spe­cialty guar­an­teed” label rec­og­niz­ing it as a slice of Europe’s food her­itage.





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