Written by Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD ~ above October 21, 2020 — medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D., Nutrition

Ham is a well-known deli meat, appetizer, and entrée the you’ve likely eaten on sandwiches or with holiday meals.

It’s a pork product that originates from pigs’ legs. The red meat is usually kept with salt or smoke, despite this procedure varies depending on the type.

You are watching: Calories in 1 slice of ham

Since that a handle meat, you might wonder even if it is ham is great for you.

This post reviews ham’s nutrients, benefits, and downsides to determine whether the healthy.

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Ham is high in protein however low in carbs, fat, and also fiber. It’s likewise low in calories when eaten alone.

Just 2 ounces (57 grams) — roughly 3–4 thin slices — the ham provide (1, 2, 3):

Calories: 69Protein: 11 gramsFat: 2 gramsCarbs: 1.5 gramsFiber: 0 grams Sugar: 1.25 gramsSodium: 26% of the daily Value (DV)Selenium: 42–76% of the DVPhosphorus: 11% of the DVZinc: 9% the the DVPotassium: 6% that the DVIron: 3% that the DV Copper: 3% the the DVMagnesium: 3% that the DV

Ham is an especially rich in selenium, providing up come 76% of the DV per 2 ounces (57 grams), depending on the type. Selenium is an important nutrient the aids reproduction, DNA construction, and also defense from epidemic (2, 3, 4).

Compared with poultry and fish, pork products like ham are higher in iron, thiamine, and other B vitamins. Yet, pork might be reduced in some nutrients than other red meats, such as beef (5).

Ham additionally provides every nine necessary amino acids, making that a finish protein. Amino acids assist build proteins and also play critical roles in metabolism, gene expression, and also cell communication (6, 7, 8, 9).

What’s more, this popular red meat includes decent quantities of phosphorus, zinc, and also potassium, which assist your body produce energy, hit infections, and also maintain heart wellness (10, 11, 12).

Furthermore, ham and other meats space a rich dietary source of carnosine, choline, and also coenzyme Q10 — compounds that help energy production and also cell messaging throughout your body (13).


Ham is a lean protein that consists of important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It’s an especially rich in selenium.

How ham is made

Ham begins as a piece of raw pork reduced from the hind legs of a pig. It’s then cleaned and also cured utilizing one or more of the adhering to methods (14):

Dry curing. The pork is extended in salt and herbs and periodically pressed to remove the blood before being washed and also hung in a climate-controlled room for 6–24 months.Smoking. The pork is hung in a smokehouse, whereby it absorbs additional flavors and colors indigenous the smoke.

Some products like box ham room mechanically formed. This technique preserves, flavors, and carefully chops muscle meat indigenous the pig’s leg, climate reshapes and packages it.

Cured and also mechanically created hams room the many common, but you can likewise buy fresh raw ham. Because this kind isn’t cured or cooked, you must cook it completely before it’s for sure to eat. Cooking a fresh ham takes longer than reheating a cured ham.

Keep in mind that factors like the kind of pig feed and processing an approach affect ham’s nutritional value (15).

One study uncovered that dry-cured ham had significantly lower levels of the useful antioxidant glutathione than fresh pork. Still, many compounds were unchanged, and some amino acid levels also increased ~ curing (16).


Whereas cured hams are kept using salt or smoke, fresh hams room raw and must be completely cooked prior to consumption. Mechanically formed ham is a extremely processed variety.

Ham looks and also tastes differently relying on the type, as well as where friend live. Numerous cultures maintain distinct methods of curing ham.

Some that the many common species of ham are:

Deli ham. likewise known as lunch meat or a cold cut, this ham is cured, sliced, and also usually prepackaged.Chopped or “chipped” ham. these ham chunks room ground, seasoned, and shaped into a loaf.City ham. This type is acting or easy cured using a wet brine and must it is in refrigerated to stay preserved.Country ham. This sort is dry cured through a big amount that salt so the it can be stored safely in ~ room temperature.Smithfield ham. This type is country ham that’s cured in Smithfield, Virginia.Black Forest. This dry-cured and also smoked ham originates in the Black woodland of Germany.Limerick ham. This smoked ham originates in Ireland and is boiled in a mixture that cider and also spices before being baked in the oven.Gammon. This brothers term describes a ham that’s lightly cured yet must it is in cooked again before consumption.York ham. This salty and also firm dry-cured ham comes from white English pigs.Prosciutto. This Italian dry-cured ham is usually cut thin and served cold.Jamón. This dry-cured ham is developed in Spain and also often offered as tapas.Anfu ham. This form uses among the oldest well-known Chinese techniques of dried curing and smoking.Prague ham. A delicacy in the Czech Republic, this tender ham is wet cured, stewed, and also smoked.

These arrays differ in nutritional value. This table depicts the nutrient in 2 ounces (57 grams) that various types of ham (17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24):

0.5 grams2.5 grams0 grams1 grams2.75 grams20 grams0 grams0 grams
9.5 grams7.5 grams11.5 grams14.25 grams10 grams23 grams14.25 grams16.25 grams
2.25 grams15 grams4 grams5 grams6.75 grams2.5 grams7 grams6 grams
0 grams0 grams0 grams0 grams2 grams0 grams0 grams
23% the the DV35% the the DV26% that the DV56% of the DV30% that the DV3% of the DV46% that the DV35% the the DV

As you have the right to see, chopped ham package far much more calories than many other types. The protein, fat, and also sodium materials vary significantly — despite Jamón has tendency to have the many protein, chopped ham the most fat, and also country ham the most salt.


Ham varies considerably in flavor and nutrients depending upon the style and curing method.

Eating ham occasionally might offer several health and wellness benefits.

Rich in helpful nutrients

Ham is wealthy in protein, minerals, and also other nutrient that support optimal health. The many notable include:

May support weight loss

Regularly eating foods with a low calorie density may promote load loss by help you feel full for longer. Calorie thickness is a measure up of calories family member to the load (in grams) or volume (in mL) of a provided food (37).

It’s measure on this range (38):

Low: 1.5 or belowMedium: 1.5–2.25High: 2.25 or more

Sliced ham clocks in in ~ 1.2, giving it a short calorie density. Thus, it might be a great protein to eat in moderation if she trying to shed weight.

Still, water-rich foodstuffs with a short calorie density, such as fruits and vegetables, do even much better choices for weight loss (39).

May help maintain muscle mass

Since ham and also other pork assets contain plenty of amino acids, lock often taken into consideration high top quality protein sources. Routinely eating these proteins may play a critical role in maintaining muscle mass and strength, specifically among older adults (40).

Moreover, ham is a good source of the molecule carnosine, which may boost exercise power (41, 42).

Nevertheless, some studies indicate that the association in between dietary protein intake and muscle mass no as strong as at first thought (43).

Certain species may alleviate inflammation

Spanish-style Iberian ham, or Jamón Ibérico, comes from black Iberian pigs that eat a diet of grains and also corn before grazing ~ above acorns, grass, and also herbs before slaughter.

Recent studies indicate that this type of ham doesn’t boost your hazard of chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, compared with other types (44, 45, 46).

Several studies also indicate that several of its link exert antioxidant-like impacts that diminish the risk of inflammation and also endothelial harm linked with high blood push (47, 48, 49, 50, 51).

All the same, further research is necessary.


Ham is a low calorie protein that provides beneficial nutrients and also may help you maintain muscle mass.

People may avoid or border meats like ham because that a number of reasons, such together their high quantities of preservatives and also salt.

In addition, ham may have actually several drawbacks.

May boost your danger of cancer

Curing and smoking — the primary food preparation methods for ham — an outcome in higher concentrations the several known carcinogens, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), N-nitroso link (NOCs), and also heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) (5, 52, 53).

Levels of these compounds boost even more when ham is reheated making use of high-temperature food preparation methods favor grilling, pan-frying, and also barbecuing (5, 52, 53).

Furthermore, nitrate- and also nitrite-based preservatives, which are sometimes added to ham to retain its color, border bacterial growth, and also prevent rancidity, may likewise cause cancer (54).

The International agency for research on Cancer (IARC) holds that processed meats choose ham cause colorectal cancer and also possibly pancreatic and also prostate cancers (5, 52, 53).

Very high in sodium

Processed meats choose ham contribute far-reaching amounts the salt to many people’s diets about the world (54, 55, 56, 57).

In fact, a 2-ounce (57-gram) offer of ham delivers nearly 26% the the DV for salt (1).

High sodium intake is connected to an raised risk of conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney failure. Consequently, people who have these conditions or room at hazard of emerging them might want come limit your ham input (54, 55, 56).

Potential chronic condition risk

Although a link between processed meat and cancer danger is well established, studies display mixed results concerning how ham affects your threat of various other chronic diseases.

On one hand, Spanish-style Iberian ham might protect against inflammation. On the other hand, big human studies display a higher mortality rate among those who eat handle red meat often — likely because of an boosted susceptibility come chronic condition (58).

One meta-analysis discovered that eating 1.76 ounces (50 grams) of processed red meat per day not only increased one’s danger of prostate and also colorectal cancers but likewise breast cancer, stroke, and also death as result of heart an illness (59).

Keep in mind the these researches aren’t certain to ham, as they incorporate other processed meats choose roast beef, bacon, sausage, and also hot dogs.

Plus, in these types of huge cohort studies, it deserve to be challenging to isolate the straight effects of handle meat from various other lifestyle factors that influence death and chronic disease.

As such, much more research is needed.

May increase your hazard of foodborne illness

Although outbreaks the food poisoning connected directly come ham have reduced in recent years, processed meats and sliced deli meat choose ham stay at a high hazard of pollution by Listeria, Staphylococcus, and also Toxoplasma gondii bacteria (60, 61, 62, 63).

Therefore, people who have a high hazard of contracting foodborne disease may desire to avoid ham. These populations include young children, enlarge adults, and those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.


Ham and other processed meat are an extremely high in salt and associated v an enhanced risk of details cancers.

Although ham has several potential benefits, it might be finest to eat that in moderation due to its downsides.

Multiple cancer organizations, including the human being Cancer Research fund (WCRF) and also American Cancer culture (ACS), advise people to eat really little, if any, processed meat (64, 65).

Since research links processed meat come colorectal, stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, civilization with a family history of this cancers may especially wish to limit or avoid ham.

Choosing much less processed varieties of ham may be one way to reduced its health risks.

The U.S. Department of agriculture (USDA) recommends eating 26 ounces (737 grams) the meat, poultry, and also eggs per week — while limiting handle meats and also choosing native a range of plant and animal protein (66).

Thus, ham can be one of plenty of protein selections in a healthy and balanced diet. Be affected by each other in mind that a fresh ham usually has less sodium and also fewer carcinogens than cured or handle ham, so look carefully at the brand to determine whether it’s fresh, lean, or low in salt.

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Some cancer organizations imply eating as small processed meat as feasible due to its health and wellness risks. Every the same, if you want to enjoy ham, eat that in moderation and also choose varieties that space fresh, lean, and also low in sodium.