Ham is a common holiday main dish enjoyed world-wide. A product of pork, ham is meat cut from the pig’s leg. This means it’s leaner than bacon, which is cut from the pig’s belly and back.
But before you include ham as a centrepiece for your next holiday dinner, it might be worth chewing on a few important facts first. Ham is preserved through a curing process and the meat is often smoked, which can be harmful to your health. While ham is commonly consumed all over the world, eating it is forbidden among certain religions.
Whether you add ham to your sandwiches, omelettes, salads, or casseroles, this meat provides a good dose of high-quality protein and various important nutrients that promote muscle growth, support DNA and protect eyesight.
In this article, I’ll weigh the pros and cons of adding ham to your plate. Keep reading to discover the healthiest ways to purchase and prepare this meat.
Is Ham Keto Friendly?
Ham is a perfect food choice for the Keto diet, as long as you don’t glaze it in a sugary sauce. Ham, in its natural state, is perfectly low carb and actually an ideal food for helping you reach ketosis as it is free of carbs and contains a decent amount of fat.
With that being said, most people cook ham by roasting it in the oven with a glaze. Some people use honey in their ham glaze, others use brown sugar, and some people even add sweet fruit like pineapple and cherries.
Those following Keto should avoid adding sweet glaze to their ham as it could quickly cause your carb counts to skyrocket. If you just can’t pass up glazed ham, I’ve got you covered. Later in this article, you’ll find a low carb recipe for Keto Glazed Ham that is completely sugar-free!
Many people use condiments like mustard to flavor their ham instead of glaze, which is great for Keto, as long as you avoid honey mustard. Stick with yellow mustard or Dijon, which are Keto-friendly condiments.
How Many Carbs are in Ham?
A 100-gram serving of fresh, cooked ham contains only 1.5 grams of carbs. Sliced Oscan Meyer luncheon meat ham contains 0 grams of carbs per 3 slices. If you’re following a low carb diet, avoid making ham sandwiches with bread. For a low carb lunch, wrap your ham, cheese and favorite sandwich fillings in a lettuce leaf or wrap your fixings inside the slice of ham, tossing the bread. A piece of cheese wrapped in a slice of ham makes a quick, satiating snack.
How Many Calories are in Ham?
A 100-gram serving of cooked ham contains 145 calories. Sliced Oscan Meyer luncheon meat ham contains 60 calories per 3 slices. One slice of prosciutto only provides 18 calories. Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that is often very thinly sliced, so it is lower in calories per slice than cooked ham luncheon meat.
|Serving: 100 grams of Extra Lean Boneless Ham
|Total Fat 6 grams
|Saturated fat 1.8 grams
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.5 grams
|Monounsaturated fat 2.6 grams
|Cholesterol 53 milligrams
|Sodium 1,203 milligrams
|Potassium 287 milligrams
|Total Carbohydrate 1.5 grams
|Dietary fiber 0 grams
|Sugar 0 grams
|Protein 21 grams
Rich in Nutrients
Ham is an excellent source of high quality protein. It is also rich in selenium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, B12, choline, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.
Pork products like ham also contain certain bioactive meat compounds, such as creatine, taurine, and glutathione, which also offer various health benefits.
Thiamine for Healthy Vision and DNA
A serving of just two slices of cooked ham provides 39% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin B1 (thiamine). Thiamine protects your eyes and is essential for the creation of DNA.
Phosphorus for Cell Function
You’ll get 28% of your RDI of Phosphorus in a single serving of ham. Phosphorus is required by every cell in the body for its optimal functioning.
Niacin to Protect Against Disease
A serving of ham also provides 25% of your RDI of vitamin B3 (niacin). Niacin helps reduce your risk of chronic diseases, like Cancer.
Protein for Muscle Growth
Pork is an excellent source of high-quality protein to support the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and muscle function. Protein is also the main building block for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Ham is extremely high in sodium and should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension. Consuming too much sodium increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. If you’re on a low sodium diet, look for low sodium brands of ham or other luncheon meats that contain less salt.
In 2016, the World Health Organization classified ham as a class 1 carcinogen, along with some other processed meats that use salt, smoking, curing, fermentation or additives to enhance flavor.
Cured deli ham and ham steaks are filled with nitrates that act as a preservative and flavor enhancer. Consuming nitrates is linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Pork that has been overcooked may also contain carcinogenic substances.
Eating raw or undercooked (rare) pork should be avoided as well, because it may contain parasites that can infect humans.
Keto Sugar-Free Glazed Ham Recipe
- 1 ham on the bone
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup brown sugar erythritol or Swerve brown sugar sweetener
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- Trim pork rind and score the fat in a criss-cross pattern, careful not to cut the meat underneath.
- Place the ham into a large roasting pan and add the water to the bottom. Cover with foil and bake for the ham for half an hour.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the sweetener, Dijon, and spices. Stir constantly while heating through until the sweetener is fully dissolved.
- Brush half of the glaze over the ham and return to the oven, uncovered for 15 minutes. Turn up the oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
- Brush on more of the glaze and return to the oven for 15 more minutes. Reserve some of the glaze and set aside.
- Brush on the remaining amount of glaze and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
Is Ham Good for Weight Loss?
Ham is high in quality protein and rich in many vitamins and minerals. For this reason, lean pork products, like ham, can be a great food choice on a weight loss diet. However, one downside of pork products like ham is that they contain a lot of sodium, which can make you bloat and put on water weight.
To make ham part of a healthy meal, pair it with fresh roasted veggies, which will balance out the high sodium content of the ham.
For a healthier ham sandwich, opt for a high-fiber whole grain bread. If you’re watching carbs, choose bread made from almond flour, rather than wheat flour or try other lower-carb bread, like sprouted sourdough.
What is the Healthiest Type of Ham to Buy?
When purchasing ham, choose lean varieties that are low in sodium. Certain brands of deli-style ham have sodium-reduced and nitrate-free products that are much healthier for you and your family to consume. Free-range and organic hams are available on the market are also much better for you.
Why is Pork Forbidden in Some Religions?
Certain religions discourage or even forbid followers from consuming pork products like ham.
For example, Muslims don’t eat pork and Buddhists are vegetarians. Pork doesn’t fit the kosher requirements for Judaism, so Jewish people avoid the meat as well. People under kosher or halal dietary restrictions are forbidden from eating pork as pigs are considered unclean.
Some Christians avoid pork, as well because the Holy Bible states in Leviticus 11:7, “And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.”
The animal’s scavenging habits are what many cultures find repulsive. This is because pigs are known scavengers that forage independently for their food and will eat anything they find, including garbage, excrement, and dead, decaying animals.
Historically, pork has been a somewhat dangerous type of meat and still is if you hunt a wild pig or boar in developing nations. However, captive, bred pigs in first world countries are generally safe to eat.