Most deli meats are low in calories and won’t derail any serious diet plans. They make convenient meal choices because they provide a quick, tasty dose of protein in sandwiches, wraps, salads or even in plain slices. However, if you have specific dietary concerns, especially if you’re following a low-sodium diet, it can be helpful to check nutritional information for deli meats before you buy them because deli meats can be very salty.
A 2 oz. serving of turkey breast lunch meat has about 55 calories, 13 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g fiber, 2 g sugar and no carbohydrates, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database.The same sized portion of salami has about 200 calories, 14 g protein, 15.5 g fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, no fiber and no sugar. A 2 oz. serving of deli ham has 60 calories, 9 g protein, 2 g fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, no fiber and 2 g sugar.
Nutrition facts for deli meats vary according to types, ingredients and processing methods. In curing and preparing meat for packaging and sale, some companies throw in quite a few additives, including salt, to keep the product as fresh as possible. One leading brand’s salami includes salt, sugar, water, artificial flavor, potassium chloride, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite and a lactic acid starter culture in addition to beef.
In addition to ingredients, serving size and accompaniments also affect how many calories and which nutrients you consume when you eat deli meat. For example, if you pile on 6 oz. of turkey instead of a more moderate 1 or 2 oz. serving, you’ll add hundreds of calories to the total as well as more sugar and cholesterol. The types of bread, condiments and other foods you eat along with the meat can further raise those totals.
Many varieties of deli meat have positive nutritional qualities. They’re great sources of lean protein, providing B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and iron, according to MyPyramid. Lean meats can also protect against harmful cell oxidation, build bone and muscle strength and boost the immune system. However, eating too much of any food group at the expense of others can result in nutrient deficiencies and other negative health effects. In addition to eating deli meat, form a balanced diet with daily servings of vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy products and whole grains.