How Much Protein Is in Cold Cuts?

Cold cuts are a good source of protein, but they shouldn't be your only source.
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Meat of any kind is one of the richest protein sources you can find, and even thinly sliced cold cuts provide a healthy dose with every serving. Stacking your sandwiches with turkey or ham has plenty of potential benefits, but it's also important to take a look at the whole nutritional picture.

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In general, a one-ounce serving of cold cuts (like ham, turkey, pastrami and bologna) contains between 3 and 6 grams of protein.

Benefits of Cold Cuts

Cold cuts can be a very healthy nutritional choice. Lean and low-fat meats, in particular, have the potential to build, grow and repair tissues for muscle, skin, blood and bone.

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Lean cold cuts also contain enough protein to offer a better value of satiation than other foods, which means they're likely to keep you full longer and might even spur you to eat fewer net calories.

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Protein in Cold Cuts

Ham

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one ounce of sliced ham contains:

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  • 45 calories
  • 4.75 g protein
  • 2.5 g fat
  • 1 g carbohydrates
  • 0.5 g fiber

Ham tends to be one of the fattier cold cuts, so you might find more saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol in it per serving than in other meats. Whenever possible, buy lean or low-fat ham to get just as much protein in a healthier product.

Turkey

One ounce of lean deli turkey contains:

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  • 25 calories
  • 4.2 g protein
  • 0.2 g fat
  • 1 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber

Turkey is naturally a lean meat, so it's an especially healthy sandwich choice. It doesn't contain quite as much protein per serving as ham, but it tends to be much lower in fat and cholesterol.

Beef

One ounce of sliced deli beef has:

  • 40 calories
  • 5.5 g protein
  • 2 g fat
  • 0.2 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber

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Beef isn't as lean as cuts of poultry, but it is a rich source of both protein and iron. Like ham, however, it has higher fat and cholesterol counts than poultry.

Pastrami

An ounce of pastrami has:

  • 40 calories
  • 6 g protein
  • 1.5 g fat
  • 0g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber

A staple of the reuben, a sandwich that also features Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, pastrami pairs well with rye or dark bread.

Salami

An ounce of salami has:

  • 95 calories
  • 6 g protein
  • 7.5 g fat
  • 0.5 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber

Salami is typically a mixture of beef and pork, and it's often even higher in sodium and fat than ham or beef. Although it can fit into a balanced diet as an occasional treat, it's healthier to choose leaner cuts of meat more often.

Bologna

A one-ounce serving of bologna has:

  • 85 calories
  • 3 g protein
  • 7.5 g fat
  • 1.5 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber

As a highly processed meat, bologna has a smooth, even texture and might be a combination of finely ground beef and pork, chicken or turkey.

Other Considerations

Protein content is only one part of the nutritional equation for cold cuts (and all other foods, for that matter!). Although not all processed lunch meats are unhealthy, many are very high in sodium and might even contain chemical additives.

Because of cold cuts' high sodium content and the relationship between high sodium intake and high blood pressure, it's best to limit or avoid cured, salted or smoked meats.

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