What Is Ham?
Ham is a type of deli meat that is made from the hind leg of a pig. It is typically cured and smoked, which gives it its distinct flavor. Curing refers to the process of adding salt, nitrates, or other chemicals to the meat, which helps to preserve it and give it a pinkish color.
Ham is available in many different varieties, including pre-sliced packages, whole hams, and even canned ham.
Now let’s look at the nutritional value of ham and try to answer the question “is ham healthy?”.
Ham Nutrition Facts
One slice (28 grams) of ham contains:
- Calories: 46
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sodium: 443 mg
- Potassium: 23 mg
- Selenium: 6% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Ham also contains small amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.
Health Benefits of Ham
So, is ham healthy? Now that we know the nutritional value of ham, let’s take a look at some of the potential health benefits it may offer.
May Boost Muscle Mass
Ham is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass. In fact, one study showed that people who ate a high-protein diet lost more fat and retained more muscle mass than those on a lower-protein diet.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Although ham is fairly high in calories, it is also quite low in carbs. This makes it a good option for people following a low-carb diet, such as the keto diet, Atkins diet, or South Beach diet.
May Support Heart Health
Ham contains selenium, an important mineral that plays a role in heart health. Selenium helps to protect the heart from damage and reduce the risk of heart disease.
May Boost Immunity
Ham also contains vitamin B12, which is essential for immune system function. Vitamin B12 helps to produce red blood cells and keep the nervous system healthy.
May Improve Brain Health
Vitamin B12 has also been linked to brain health. It helps to produce myelin, a substance that protects nerve cells and plays a role in cognitive function.
Is ham healthy? Overall, ham appears to be a fairly nutritious food. It is high in protein and low in carbs, and it also contains some important nutrients like selenium and vitamin B12. However, there are some drawbacks to consider.
Drawbacks of Eating Ham
Here are some risks to consider when answering the question “is ham healthy?”.
Can Be High in Sodium
Ham is quite high in sodium, which can pose a risk for people with high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The sodium intake for people who eat a lot of servings of ham per day is much higher.
Can Be a Carcinogen
Cured meats like ham are also high in nitrates. When nitrates are exposed to high heat, they can form cancer-causing compounds. For this reason, it’s best to limit your consumption of cured ham and other processed meats, and they may increase your risk of getting cancer.
Can Be Packed With Preservatives
Ham can also be packed with preservatives, which may be harmful to your health. Look for ham that is made without sodium nitrite or other preservatives.
May Contain Harmful Bacteria
Ham can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. These bacteria can cause food poisoning, so it’s important to cook ham properly.
Contain Saturated Fats
Pork products belong to red meats, which are high in sodium saturated fats. Saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. It can also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Is Ham Healthy? How to Choose the Best Type of Ham
Now that we’ve looked at the potential health benefits and drawbacks of eating ham, you may be wondering how to choose the best ham for you. Here are a few tips:
- When buying ham, look for options that are made without sodium nitrite or other preservatives.
- If you’re concerned about the fat and calorie content of ham, choose leaner cuts, such as ham steak or extra-lean ground ham.
- Canned ham can be high in sodium and preservatives. If possible, select fresh or frozen ham instead.
- Always check the ingredients. If you’re unsure about an ingredient, ask the butcher or grocery store clerk for more information.
- Choose organic ham if possible. This will help to ensure that the ham is free of harmful chemicals and antibiotics.
Is Ham Healthy? Summary
Ham may be a tasty addition to your sandwich, but it’s important to remember about high sodium content and other risks we mention above. Ask your nutritionist how much ham you can consume and always choose good quality products. Thanks for reading!
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