In the olden days, when soldiers went to war, off to remote landscapes, they carried meat with them; and in order to keep the meat from rotting they would dip them in brine (thick solution of salt in water) and smoke them. This process is actually called “Curing the meat”.
When you “Cure” pig’s meat (taken from the rind legs and butt of a pig), what you end up with is called Ham. So Ham is basically pig’s meat cured for longer storage.
So is ham good for you, is it healthy, does ham have any benefits for health or is it a food one should avoid? Let’s look at the answers in detail.
What’s So Bad About Ham?
The “Sodium” content is the biggest concern when you are eating Ham.
Remember that in order to “cure” the meat, it’s soaked in brine, which is a dense solution of salt, and so the tissues of meat are rendered with high amounts of sodium.
One doesn’t need to be a doctor to know that eating salt is not good for your health, it leads to problems like bloating, hypertension, cell damage, inflammation, joint problems and other issues in the body.
So eating ham, on a regular basis, is not really good for you. Especially if you don’t take any measure to reduce the sodium content.
Some people tend to soak the ham in warm water for close to 4 to 12 hours to get rid of the excess salt content, before cooking it.
Is Ham Fattening?
Ham is very rich in saturated fats, and this is not good news.
Most of the calories in ham comes from “Fat”, and the fat is in the form of “saturated” fatty acids (which are solid at room temperature).
The consumption of saturated fats tends to create issues with your cholesterol levels by increasing your LDL (bad cholesterol) count. Increased LDL can lead to situations like “Artery clogs” which cause cardiovascular (heart) diseases.
Ham is quite high in calories. A slice of ham, weighing just 24 grams, can contain as much as 46 calories, a good portion coming from unhealthy fat. The process of cooking the ham can also make it unhealthier.
The healthiest way to cook ham is to bake it in an oven. Make linear cuts on the meat and place a meat rack under it, to allow the excess fat to drip away. It’s best to discard the fat that dripped away, instead of using it to cook the meat.
Are there any Benefits of Eating Ham?
Ham is rich in protein, like all red meats.
Moreover Ham also contains some essential minerals and vitamins like Copper, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Zinc and Riboflavin. So this makes Ham a whole food.
In this sense, ham is good for you if you eat it in moderation, and burn off the excess calories through exercise.
Ham also makes for a tasty substitute for chicken, mutton, beef or fish, there are many people who love the flavor, and texture, of pig meat.
It’s also true that eating protein rich foods make you feel full longer and thus help in reducing “over eating”.
Some people believe that pigs are “unhygienic” animals, who roll in dirt and filth, and eat all sorts of wastes, and hence their meat is contaminated and infected. This is not true; there are many nations where pig meat is consumed in large quantities, and makes for a staple diet, with people not getting any disease or infection from the meat.
So is Ham Good or Bad?
Well, Ham is certainly not a very healthy food to consume, because of the “curing” it goes through, and the “saturated” fat content.
But having said that, ham is good for you if you eat it in moderation once or twice a week – because it provides good amounts of protein and essential minerals. As mentioned earlier, consider baking the ham in an oven allowing the excess fat to drip away.