Is Eating Ham Good for Health?

Ham is something that we gladly eat, whether the ready to eat one or ham that requires cooking. It is the hind-leg of pork, produced through salting, smoking, or wet curing. In order to add some flavoring and to preserve it, various ingredients are added during the production process. Do you love eating ham? Do you eat it almost every day? But is ham good to eat?

Is Ham Healthy?

If you are a ham lover, you should know that it is not the healthiest option, among all meat types available on the market today. Even though ham is rich in proteins, some minerals, and vitamins, it is also rich in fat and sodium. When you go grocery shopping, choose only healthier options of ham like extra lean versions as they contain less fat and sodium.


Ham is packed with fats. One serving of ham of only 28 grams contains 2 grams of total fat, half of which is saturated fat, and 16 milligrams of cholesterol. It also contains 16.8 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids and 193 milligrams of omega 6 fatty acids.


Ham is packed with proteins as well. One serving of ham of only 28 grams contains about 5 grams of protein. According to the Dietary Reference Intake, males with a sedentary lifestyle should consume about 56 gram of proteins a day, while females with a sedentary lifestyle should consume about 46 gram of proteins a day.


Is ham healthy? Ham is not rich only in fats and proteins it is rich in sodium too. One serving of ham of only 28 grams contains about 365 milligrams of sodium. High levels of sodium in the human body lead to various health problems such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and it also significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

For this reason, people who already have cardiovascular problems should avoid ham at all or consume it in moderation. It has been estimated that an increased intake of sodium will significantly increase the risk for stomach ulcers, which can often lead to stomach cancer.


Ham is also packed with some types of vitamins, mostly vitamins B1, B6, B12 and C. Vitamin B1, or else known as thiamine promotes normal digestion in the gastrointestinal system, improves memory and it even has anti-aging properties. Vitamin B6 is necessary for a normal functioning of the nervous and muscular system. So is ham healthy? However, there are healthier meat options that are rich in these vitamins that you should choose over ham.


Ham contains certain minerals as well, such as iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, etc.

Processed Meat Health Risks

Ham is a form of processed meat and everything that is processed is not healthier than fresh meat. You should probably know that processed meat, including ham, is linked to different health risks. Consuming processed meat on regular basis increases the risk for various health conditions including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bowel cancer, stomach cancer, heart problems, etc.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, processed foods, where ham also belongs significantly increases the risk for various cancer types such as lung cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, testis cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer, pancreas cancer, colon cancer, and rectum cancer.

How to Choose a Healthier Ham?

Is ham healthy? It is not the best meat option, especially for some people. If you are a ham lover but at the same time if you are concerned about the health risks associated with ham consumption, it is normal to wonder how to choose a healthier ham.

First of all, you should eat ham and other processed meat in moderation. You can indulge in ham every now and then but keep in mind that there are always healthier options available such as fresh meat, chicken, turkey, fish, etc.

If you are a ham lover and opt for healthier variants, always check the ingredients list. Avoid buying ham that includes sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), aspartame and added smoke.

Ham is packed with sodium so when consuming ham occasionally, avoid adding any sauces as it will increase the intake of sodium even more.

Serving Ham Healthfully

If you want to indulge in ham occasionally, then you better serve it healthy. When buying ham at the grocery store, always check the labels and aim for the ones with the lowest level of sodium.

When eating ham, don’t eat it as a main dish, but rather as a garnish. If your children love ham sandwiches, for example, try to cut the amount of ham you use while making these sandwiches. Chop the ham into thin slices and mix it with other ingredients while making a veggie sandwich for example. Your children will still have a sandwich with a taste of ham, but of course, this sandwich will be much healthier than the classic ham and cheese sandwich they used to eat. For salads, you can slice some ham as well to use it as a topping if you prefer.

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