Is Salami Healthy?

The word "salami" encompasses a range of cured, spiced sausage varieties with a firm texture. You may find mass-produced salami at the deli meat counter, meant for sandwich fillings, at your local grocery store. You might also encounter artisan salami, generally used as a savory accompaniment to cheese, mustard and crackers on charcuterie platters.

Is Salami Healthy? (Image: tbralnina/iStock/GettyImages)

Salami is a high-calorie food that contains significant amounts of fat, sodium and nitrates. Various types of salami contain different spices and ingredients, so the nutritional value may be different in each kind of salami.

Tip

Because salami is high in calories, fat, sodium and nitrates, it isn't the healthiest food you can eat.

About Salami Calories

Most salami meat contains 441 calories per 100 grams (g) serving, according to FitBit. This amount — equivalent to 3.5 oz — comprises 22 percent of the allowable calories in your meal plan if you follow a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Consider eating a smaller portion of salami to decrease the number of calories you consume. Healthier options for meat would be turkey or chicken, which FitBit says has 235 calories per serving.

Fat and Cholesterol Content

A 100 g serving of salami has 41 g of fat, of which 76 percent comes from saturated fat. This type of fat can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. The Mayo Clinic says the DRI recommends keeping saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. For a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that's 200 calories or about 22 g of saturated fat. That puts salami well over the DRI for fat, so if you do include the full serving of salami in your diet, carefully monitor the saturated fat in the remainder of your meal plan. The cholesterol you eat can also raise your chances of developing heart problems; one serving of salami contains 80 milligrams (mg) cholesterol, which is 27 percent of your recommended daily intake.

Carbohydrate and Protein Content

Salami is not a good source of carbohydrates, but that varies on whether the salami used sugar in the seasoning mix. Salami contains 2.3 g of carbs per serving, but your meal plan should include 130 g per day to meet your nutritional needs, according to Dietary Reference Intakes. If you do eat salami meat, pair it with a healthy carbohydrate to boost your intake of carbs. The protein in salami amounts to 17 g per 100 g serving, while chicken has 23 g, just for comparison.

Vitamins and Minerals in Salami

Another salami nutrition fact is that it offers important B vitamins essential to health. Vitamin B has a vital role in helping your body to metabolize energy from the foods you eat. According to My Food Data , salami is a rich source of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 at 0.3 mg per 28 g serving, and vitamin B12 at 0.8 μg. A serving of salami contains 33 percent DRI for vitamin B12, 22 percent for thiamin (vitamin B1) and 10 percent DV for niacin (vitamin B3).

One 28 g serving of salami contains 64 mg of phosphorus, which is 5 percent of the daily recommended intake. Phosphorus is a mineral important for the production of DNA and RNA. A 28 g serving of salami also provides 1.2 mg of zinc, or 11 percent DRI, in addition to small amounts of iron and magnesium.

Sodium Content of Salami

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that individuals consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. Yet, the average sodium intake for Americans is more than 3,400 mg per day, says the Center for Disease control and Prevention. A 100 g serving of salami meat will deliver 1,890 mg of sodium, or 79 percent of your DRI, warns FitBit. Even if you are perfectly healthy, too much sodium can be potentially dangerous, possibly elevating your blood pressure and causing water retention.

The Danger of Nitrates

The concern over sodium nitrates in luncheon meats has been a topic of conversation for years. But what really is the danger? As it turns out, it is not the nitrates themselves that pose the risk. When nitrates are consumed in the absence of plants, a compound called nitrosamine is formed. Nitrosamines are one of the most potent carcinogens in the world, according to NutritionFacts. Plants do not produce nitrosamines because they have phytonutrients that block formation of these cancer-forming compounds. The danger for salami and other deli meats happens when nitrates are added to meat as a preservative. Although this method of preserving luncheon meat still exists, new processing technique have resulted in the drop of nitrates in meat by 20 percent, according to Berkeley Wellness University. Some companies use various other components to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including acid brine, celery juice and a vitamin C derivative.

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