You might think of pastrami as a New York classic, but it originated in Romania where it was made from goose breast, according to Sarah Green of "USA Today." Pastrami, as most people know it, is made from beef -- usually the belly -- and is soaked in brine, smoked and steamed to make the tough meat tender. Compared to other deli meats, such as bologna or salami, pastrami is low in both calories and fat, but it's high in sodium. Knowing the nutritional breakdown can help you decide how it might fit into your diet plan.
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Low-Calorie Sandwich Filler
A 1-ounce serving of beef pastrami has 41 calories, which is about the same number of calories in deli turkey and ham, both considered lean, low-calorie sandwich options. If you prefer poultry to beef, the turkey pastrami is also a good low-calorie option with 39 calories per 1-ounce serving. Most Americans eat too many calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and including more low-calorie food options can help you cut back and help you better manage your weight.
Complete Source of Protein
As a lean meat, most of the calories in pastrami come from its protein content. One ounce of beef pastrami contains 6 grams of protein, while the same serving of turkey pastrami contains 4.5 grams. As an animal source of protein, both the beef and turkey pastrami provide all of the essential amino acids, making them complete sources of protein. While protein is an important nutrient, most Americans get more than enough in their diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Low in Fat, But Source of Saturated Fat
Both the beef and turkey pastrami contain fewer than 2 grams of fat per 1-ounce serving. In beef pastrami, however, most of the fat comes from saturated fat. Getting too much saturated fat in your diet increases blood cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends you limit your saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of calories, or no more than 16 grams a day on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Too Much Sodium
Like other types of luncheon meat, pastrami is high in sodium. A 1-ounce portion of beef pastrami contains 302 milligrams of sodium, while the same serving of turkey pastrami contains 314 milligrams. Getting too much sodium in your diet increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. For heart health, limit your daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day.
- USA Today: New York Pastrami: America's Best Regional Food?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Cured, Pastrami
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Plannning
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Pastrami, Turkey
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fat
- American Heart Association: Sodium
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 2 - Balancing Calories to Manage Weight