Ham Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Ham, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Ham is the centerpiece of many holiday meals, but unfortunately, it's often high in sodium and other preservatives. If you're been watching your heart health, you may be wondering whether it's still OK to eat ham. By taking a few things into consideration, ham can be included as part of a healthy eating plan. There's even some benefits to gain along the way.

Ham Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 3 ounces of cured ham (84 grams).

  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 4g
  • Sodium: 1050mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 14g

Carbs

Ham isn't usually high in carbohydrates. A 3 ounce serving of cured ham has 1 gram of carbohydrates coming from sugar, specifically, dextrose which is used as a preservative. Honey ham varieties are likely to be higher in sugar and as a result, carbohydrates.

Fats

Ham has about 4 grams of fat per 3 ounce serving. Of the 4 grams of total fat, 1.4 grams are from saturated fats.

Protein

Ham is high in protein with 14 grams of per 3 ounce serving. Ham provides all of the essential amino acids.

Vitamins & Minerals

Most types of cured ham are high in sodium. The example above provides 44% of the daily limit for sodium in one 3 ounce serving.

Health Benefits

Allergies

Adverse Effects

Varieties

Gammon is the hind leg of the pig. Ham is also from the hind leg of the pig, but gammon is sold raw, has been cured, and must be cooked before eating. Ham is sold cooked and ready to eat. Gammon nutrition is similar to ham nutrition. There are about 123 calories in a single serving of gammon, 5 grams of fat, 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrate and 1023 milligrams of sodium.

Prosciutto is Italian ham that is dry-cured. Most people who enjoy prosciutto eat it very thinly sliced so you are likely to consume fewer calories with this ham variation. One slice of prosciutto only provides 18 calories.

When It's Best

Storage and Food Safety

Ham leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator. Usually, ham is good for 5-8 days. Ham can be frozen for up to four weeks.

How to Prepare

When you are buying a ham for the holidays, figure that each person will eat one-half pound or less. Then buy with the bone-in for a more flavorful taste or boneless for convenience and easier slicing.

To make the healthiest ham meal, try to pair the meat with foods that are lower in salt. They will help to balance out the high sodium content of the ham. Side dishes like baked sweet potatoes, artichokes, carrots, green beans or asparagus work well.

Having a ham sandwich? Choose a whole wheat bread that is lower in salt and high in fiber. Choosing another type of bread, such as a croissant, would provide less fiber and more calories from fat. To your healthier sandwich you can add crunchy low salt veggies to round out the meal. Sliced radishes or celery are perfect. You can also choose cucumber, cauliflower or cherry tomatoes.

Recipes

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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ham. FoodData Central. 2019.