A ham sandwich may seem simple to make, but its nutrition is anything but simple to master. The type of bread you use, choice of condiments and added ingredients all influence ham sandwich calories.
A ham sandwich can have anywhere between 210 and 820 calories (or more) depending on the kind of bread you use, the amount of fillings, the type of fillings and the condiments.
A Ham Sandwich Isn’t Simple
A ham sandwich can be as simple as a few ounces of deli ham slipped between two slices of standard white bread, or as complex as a sub sandwich replete with cheese, mayonnaise, avocado and other toppings.
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The ham itself doesn't vary much in calories. Honey ham, for example, has about 60 calories per 2-ounce serving; Black Forest ham has 70 calories for the same size serving. Two ounces of ham has about 10 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat, too. How much of that ham you put on a sandwich will affect the calorie, protein and fat count.
Read more: What is the Healthiest Deli Meat?
Pile on the meat thickly, like a New York deli sub, and you'll certainly have a lot more calories than you would in a school lunch box staple. For the most accurate count, weigh your ham on a food scale and consult your ham's packaging to find out the exact calories in your brand.
Type of Bread Matters
A ham sandwich's calories also depend on the type of bread you use. Thin, white bread carries just 140 calories in two slices. Make your sandwich on a different type of bread and the calories change:
Know that whole-wheat or whole-grain bread may add a few extra calories, but these choices also increase your sandwich's healthiness quotient. The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine published a review in March 2017 outlining evidence that higher dietary whole-grain intake may help prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer. Aim for two to three servings per day.
Ultimately, the calorie count of the bread you use depends on the brand — so check the label of your brand of choice.
Ham Sandwich Calories: Condiments and Fillings
The fillings and condiments you add to your sandwich make a difference in ham sandwich calories, carbs and protein.
If you like cheese on your ham sandwich, fat levels go up as well as the calorie count. A slice of American cheese adds 70 calories and 6 grams of fat; Swiss cheese adds 110 calories and 8.68 grams of fat per slice; and sharp cheddar cheese adds 86 calories and 7 grams of fat per slice.
Mayonnaise adds 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon. Squeeze on a packet of classic yellow mustard for just 3 extra calories and no added fat. Whole grain mustard adds just 5 calories per teaspoon and no fat.
Read more: Top 10 Healthiest Fruits and Vegetables
Most classic sandwich vegetable fillings, such as pickles, lettuce and tomato slices add negligible calories. Adding more watery, fibrous vegetables to your sandwich, and to your diet in general, can help you control your weight, too. A review published in a the November 2018 issue of Nutrients indicates that people who eat lots of vegetables may find it easier to lose weight, may be less likely to develop obesity or accumulate belly fat, and may be better able to avoid gaining weight.
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Country Ham Sandwich"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Ham and Swiss Sandwich"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Honey Ham"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Black Forest Ham"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "White Bread"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Croissant"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Sandwich Roll"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Italian Sandwich Roll"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Rye Bread"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Sprouted Whole Grain Bread"
- Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: "Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Whole Wheat Bread"
- USDA Nutrient Database:"American Cheese"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Swiss Cheese"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Sharp Cheddar Cheese"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Real Mayonnaise"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Yellow Mustard"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Whole Grain Mustard"
- Nutrients: "The Relationship between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies"
- USDA Nutrient Database: "Search: Ham Sandwich"