It’s estimated that 36% of American adults are obese.
A big part of combatting that number is getting people to eat healthier. But sometimes it’s hard to know what foods are good for you and which should be avoided.
For example, is ham healthy? While it’s a source of protein, does it have any health benefits? Or does the amount of nitrates and sodium it contains make it unhealthy?
If you’re on a quest to clean up your diet and you’re a big fan of ham, you’ll need the answers to those questions and more. Keep reading as we explore the health benefits of ham.
Is Ham Healthy?
Because it’s meat, ham is a source of protein. Proteins, of course, contribute to muscle mass and strength.
But ham also contains all nine essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. This means that it has more of an impact on metabolism, gene expression, and cell communication.
Ham is also low in calories, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber. In fact, sliced ham has a low calorie density, which means it helps you feel full for longer than foods with high calorie density. This might aid in weight loss.
Ham contains a number of minerals and other nutrients that contribute to good health. These include carnosine, choline, and coenzyme Q10. Things like phosphorous, zinc, and potassium can provide energy, maintain heart health, and even fight infection.
In comparison to poultry and fish, pork tends to be higher in B vitamins, iron, and thiamine. It’s also a rich source of selenium, which helps with everything from DNA construction to reproduction.
Potential Downsides to Ham
While ham may have all the above nutrition and health benefits, there are a few factors that can affect that potential.
The processing method is among the most important of those factors. Different processing methods will have different effects on the ham’s nutritional value.
Some types of ham use high amounts of sodium as well as nitrates for preservation. Those additions will make the ham less nutritious.
But even the type of feed the pig was given can affect nutritional content. In the same way, hormones can impact the potential nutritional value of your ham.
What Type of Ham Is Healthy?
Ham that’s healthy is ham that’s low in two things: sodium and nitrates. Consuming sodium in large amounts inrceases your risk of heart disease as well as stroke, kidney disease, and hypertension. Nitrates can decrease your red blood cells’ ability to transport oxygen and may also be linked to certain types of cancer.
If you’re buying deli ham, look for brands that are low in sodium and nitrates. If you’re looking at other cuts, look for those that are smoked or cured in simple spices, like tasso ham.
More on the Food You Love
If you love pork products but you’re trying to eat clean, you may have been wondering: is ham healthy? A great source of protein, minerals, and vitamins, ham has many nutritional benefits. But those benefits are only true if you’re mindful of the type of ham you’re purchasing.
Want to know more about the food you love? Be sure to check out our food section regularly.