Ham

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 28. Sep. 2020

Ham comes in many varieties: dried, smoked, raw. But is this delicious meat healthy? Find out below.

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Ham...

  • ...promotes blood formation. Ham is a rich source of iron, a mineral imperative in the formation of blood. 100 grams of ham contains about a fifth of the average daily requirement of iron for women, and about a quarter for men.
  • ...is a good source of B vitamins. Ham is one of the good suppliers of vitamins from the B group, especially vitamin B12, which helps keep the body’s nerves and blood cells healthy.
  • ...is rich in protein. With an average of 22 g of protein per 100 g serving, ham is definitely one of the best sources of high-quality, easily digestible protein.
  • ...can contain carcinogens. When it comes to packaged ham, you should only eat small quantities in moderation. This is because processed meat products contain nitrite curing salts, which can produce carcinogenic nitrosamines in the body.
  • ...shouldn't be eaten if you have gout. Depending on the type, ham is one of the most unfavorable foods for gout sufferers, as it contains high amounts of purines and uric acid. If you have gout, you should avoid eating ham.
  • ...should be avoided if you summer from rheumatism. Ham contains a very high amount of arachidonic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid which enables formation of messenger substances that promote inflammation in the body. As a result, if you suffer from inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatism, you should eat ham only sparingly, if at all.

What You Should Know About Ham

Origins

The word ham comes from the Old English word hamm, which refers to a specific cut of meat that is taken from the pig's back legs. However ham as we know it today draws its roots from China, where pork was first cured for consumption around 4900 B.C. From there, cured pork quickly gained popularity throughout Ancient Rome and later throughout Europe.

Season

Ham is available year round.

Flavor

The flavor of ham varies depending on the kind of pork used as well as curing and cooking techniques, but in general ham has a smoky, slightly sweet and delicious rich flavor.

Find all our recipes with ham here.

How Healthy Is Ham?

Let's get the bad news out of the way: as delicious as ham is, certain health drawbacks mean that ham should only be consumed in moderation. Among these are the carcinogens which are generally released in ham's consumption. These include, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs for short, which are carcinogenic substances that are produced in the ham when it is smoked, which much ham is. In addition, most hams are cured with salts containining nitrite, which can cause nitrosamines and thus contribute to the dvelopment of cancer. In addition, non-organic ham products are often treated with other chemicals to preserve the meat, such as sorbates, which are not good for our bodies. As a result, it's best to relegate your ham consumption to special occasions, and purchase organic ham from sustainable farm practices as much as possible. EAT SMARTER recommends eating no more than 100 g of ham a week. And if you limit your intake, you can be rest-assured that you are gaining some health benefits from this delicious product. Ham is rich in protein and powerful nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron.

HAM NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 110
Protein 19 g
Fat 3 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g
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