Ham salad is a common sandwich spread that you can make at home, grab at the deli or buy pre-packaged. It’s comparable to chicken salad and egg salad, with similar ingredients, although its nutrition facts do vary. Depending on how it’s made and what it contains, ham salad can be a healthy meal choice or a high-fat, high-calorie option.
Ham salad spread has about 60 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 rams of carbohydrates, no fiber and no sugar in a 1 ounce serving, which is about the size of a deck of cards. Other versions of the spread have different nutritional profiles. A recipe for ham and lentil salad from the December 2001 issue of Cooking Light magazine, for instance, has about 290 calories, 6.6 grams of fat, 24.5 grams of protein, 35.5 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of fiber in a serving of 1 1/3 cups.
Ham salad’s ingredients are largely what determine its nutritional values. Although the amounts of fat, calories, carbohydrates and other nutrients in a single serving are important for dieters, the composition of those nutrients can be equally impactful. For example, the Cooking Light version contains skim milk, lentils, celery and red onion, all of which provide essential vitamins and minerals. The traditional ham salad spread may be an unhealthier choice because it tends to be high in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat from mayonnaise and processed ham.
Calorie-wise, ham salad is a bit slimmer than some of its counterparts. A half cup portion of chicken salad contains about 200 calories but also has 16 grams of fat, more than 100 milligrams of sodium and 13 grams of protein. Egg salad, on the other hand, has about 270 calories, 23 grams of fat, 330 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of protein in a half cup serving.
Prepared, packaged and processed foods tend to have higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugar and calories than homemade counterparts, so if you’re aiming for the best nutrition, you can make ham salad at home and use minimally processed ham, reduced-fat mayonnaise, vegetables and other healthy ingredients. To find the nutritional values per serving, plug the ingredient amounts into an online calorie counter, keep track of the totals and divide them by the number of servings in your recipe.
From a nutritional perspective, even though prepared ham salad can be high in fat, it’s far from the worst food offender, and it’s not likely to derail any healthy diet plans. However, if you eat too much ham salad or protein-rich foods at the expense of other food groups, you could end up with nutrient deficiencies or other health issues. Thus, MyPyramid.gov recommends eating a balanced diet that also includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nonfat dairy products.