Ham and Diabetes

Ham and Diabetes

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Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

144 kcal

Although meats are essential to obtain protein in the body, they pose a threat to diabetics due to their high fat and calorie content. Fortunately, lean meat comes in handy as a healthy substitute, as they have a relatively low fat and carb content with a rich supply of protein.


Moreover, although eating more grains and beans is advisable for diabetics, ham can be incorporated into their diet as a lean protein source. Hence, with enough planning, diabetics can safely enjoy the fantastic and satisfying taste ham offers.


With that out of the way, let’s see what science says about the relationship between ham and diabetes.


Nutritional value

  • Protein 18 g
  • Carbohydrate 0 g
  • Fat 7.46 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 0 g
  • Cholesterol 38 g

Ham’s Nutritional Profile


Processed meats like ham have a high saturated fat content (3.54 g per 3.5 oz serving), which can raise your blood sugar levels. Another major cause of alarm for diabetics who want to add ham to their diet is its high sodium content — 1,030 mg per 3.5-oz serving. This presents a risk of high blood pressure and heart disease as it is close to half of the FDA-recommended 2,300 mg daily value.


However, despite the red flags ham bears, it is packed with healthy doses of selenium, phosphorus, and niacin, which aid the proper functioning of the body by managing cholesterol levels and improving the immune system. It is also rich in protein and low in carbs and calories at 19.6 g, 2.36 g, and 121 cal per 3.5 oz serving, respectively.


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Should Diabetics Eat Ham?


Research on ham and diabetes remains inconclusive as to whether ham should be included or excluded in diabetics’ diets. However, this article analyzes its purported benefits and the potential risks associated with its consumption by diabetics.


Benefits Of Ham To Diabetics


Generally, the type of ham, as well as the method of preparation, determines its associated benefits/effects. Let’s see just how this meat benefits people with diabetes.


High Potassium Content


According to a research article that examines the link between potassium and type 2 diabetes risk, individuals with low potassium release less insulin, causing an inadvertent increase in blood sugar levels. Thankfully, ham contains a healthy amount of potassium—484 mg per 3.5 oz serving—meaning it might benefit people managing diabetes. However, this is still subject to further research.


Why Should Diabetics Avoid Ham?


High in Saturated Fats


Heart disease commonly accompanies diabetes. For this reason, consumption of saturated fats is highly advised against. Unfortunately, processed meats like ham have a high saturated fat content.


According to a study, substituting trans fatty acids and saturated fats with unsaturated fats offer favorable effects on insulin sensitivity and can potentially reduce type 2 diabetes risk.


High Nitrate Content


Manufacturers add nitrates to processed meats like ham to give them color and prolong their shelf life. While this ensures that ham retains its fresh taste, nitrates have debilitating effects on diabetics. According to research, induced nitric oxide formation destroys pancreatic beta cells in type 1 diabetes and leads to a free fatty acid-induced decrease in insulin secretion in prediabetic rats’ islets.


Healthier Alternatives To Ham


Although ham has a unique and fantastic taste, people with diabetes must minimize its consumption or, better still, consider excluding it from their diet. However, they can rest assured because there are various alternatives to ham that they can enjoy. These include pork chops, pork tenderloin, and pork steaks with visible white fat cut out before eating.


Safe Ways To Eat Ham


The relationship between the consumption of ham and diabetes risk will continue to be an endless cause of debate and research among dieticians and foodies. However, what is the fate of diabetics that would still like to include it in their diet? Worry not, as we have some exciting recipes you can try out.


  • Ham and broccoli as a breakfast casserole
  • White bean and ham soup
  • Green eggs and ham soup
  • Ham and cheese scones
  • Broccoli, ham, and pasta salad

Wrap Up


While ham poses several risks, people with diabetes can still enjoy the taste of animal protein without risking their health. Just be sure to consult your doctor or dietician on the amount that you can consume. Similarly, you can simply replace it with healthier options like fish, lean meats, and plant-based alternatives.

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