Sliced deli ham is a common option for salads and sandwiches. Deli ham can be sliced directly from a large ham or ham pieces pressed together to form loaves. While this luncheon meat does contain a high amount of sodium, it does have positive nutritional value including minerals and protein. It is also relatively low in calories and fat.
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Calories and Fat
A 2-oz. serving of sliced deli ham contains 60 calories. While you can consume deli ham by itself, it is most commonly eaten as part of a sandwich, so your caloric intake may be much more. One serving of this luncheon meat has 1 g of fat. You should obtain 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories from fat. Consuming more than this may lead to weight gain.
Protein and Carbohydrates
Sliced deli ham is a good source of protein, with 10 g per serving. This accounts for 17.8 to 21.7 percent of the protein your body requires each day. Ham is a complete protein, which means it provides all the essential amino acids. This food does not contribute significantly to your carbohydrate needs – one serving has 2 g of carbs, while the FDA recommends you consume 225 to 325 g of carbs daily.
One serving of sliced deli ham provides 2 percent of the daily recommended intake of iron. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, the red pigment in blood that transports oxygen to your cells and removes carbon dioxide from them. Without enough iron in your diet, you may develop anemia.
Sliced deli ham contains preservatives including sodium and ham is naturally high in sodium. One serving of this ham contains about 460 g of sodium. An ideal diet contains 1,500 mg of sodium or less per day; eating more than this can increase your risk of hypertension and heart disease, and it can trigger uncomfortable fluid retention. While federal guidelines allow for 2,300 mg of sodium each day, the lower limit suggested by the American Heart Association applies to most Americans. This may make deli ham a poor choice for your diet, although you may opt for low-sodium deli meats.
Processed meat, such as deli ham, may increase your risk for colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, a study published in the June 2010 issue of the journal “Circulation” indicates that deli ham and other processed meats trigger a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease, as well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.