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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Is Corned Beef Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Is Corned Beef Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 13, 2023
7 min read 1310 Views 1 Comments
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Corned beef is a delicious food packed with protein, but will it help you stay in shape and feel your best?

is corned beef healthy

Getting your daily dose of protein shouldn’t be a chore! There are tons of excellent high-protein foods that are easy to make and delicious to eat, and corned beef is just one of your many options.

If you’re interested in trying a new protein source and wonder if corned beef is a healthy option, you’re in the right place.

Below, you’ll find more information on corned beef, its potential health benefits, and a healthy recipe you can make from home.

Is Corned Beef Healthy?

No, corned beef cannot be considered healthy. Although it contains high amounts of protein, vitamin B12, and healthy fat, it is processed red meat, a food classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a possible carcinogen.

5 Health Benefits of Corned Beef

While store-bought corned beef is not the healthiest of options, a homemade version can provide health benefits, including protein, iron, and vitamin B12.

This next section will explore the many health benefits of eating corned beef.

#1 Full of protein

Corned beef is an excellent source of protein, a macronutrient essential for various bodily functions. The amino acids in protein are critical for muscle growth and assist in the many processes related to rebuilding and creating cells in your body. 

#2 High source of iron

Corned beef is a red meat that contains a high volume of iron, with a 100-gram serving providing around 12% of the daily recommendation.

Iron is considered an essential nutrient because it is required to make hemoglobin, a protein in blood cells. Finding ways to increase hemoglobin is vital because it carries oxygen throughout the body. Adequate iron levels also help decrease fatigue and improve overall circulation. 

#3 Helps you feel full

The high protein content in corned beef can make you feel fuller for longer after eating it. This is because protein takes longer to digest and produces less of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for initiating the hunger signal in the brain.

Corned beef, when combined with other nutritious foods, such as vegetables, can be a hearty meal that gives you energy for hours to come. 

#4 Great source of vitamin B12

One of the many health benefits of eating corned beef is related to the high amounts of vitamin B12 it contains. Vitamin B12 is useful in improving cardiovascular health and has shown the potential to reduce the symptoms of dementia later on in life.

#5 High in selenium 

Another benefit of eating cooked corned beef brisket is the amount of selenium it contains. Selenium is an underrated essential mineral that boosts both immune and thyroid function.

Since a 100-gram serving of corned beef contains up to 30mcg of selenium, 40% of the daily recommendation, adding corned beef to your diet is a good way to hit your recommended intake of this important mineral.

5 Downsides of Corned Beef

Although corned beef can be a great addition to a healthy diet and provides many health benefits, there are some potential downsides to eating corned beef that should be considered. 

This next section will outline the potential risks accompanying corned beef consumption.

#1 High sodium content

One of the downsides commonly attributed to how corned beef is made is the amount of salt in the pickling spices. 

Since overconsuming salty foods is indeed known to raise blood pressure, limiting salt consumption is important. Not doing so can lead to heart diseases like high cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes.

#2 Excessive levels of saturated fat

One of the major concerns of cooked corned beef is the excessive levels of saturated fats, which can be dangerous when consumed in high doses. When considering eating corned beef, be mindful of how much saturated fat you have already consumed that day.

#3 Higher caloric content

The slightly increased caloric content of corned beef per portion can be a downside for those aiming to be in a caloric deficit. One way you can still lose weight with this addition to your nutritional profile is by having a regular workout routine

#4 High in cholesterol

Eating foods high in cholesterol can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Since a 100-gram serving of corned beef contains 86mg of cholesterol, close to a third of the daily limit of 300mg, it’s best to eat corned beef in combination with other low-cholesterol foods.

#5 May contribute to cancer development

Processed red meats like corned beef are under a lot of scrutiny because they contain carcinogens, substances linked to an increased likelihood of cancer. 

Studies recommend eating less than 70 grams of cooked red meat daily to reduce the likelihood of things like bowel cancer. 

Nutrition Facts of Corned Beef

Having a clear understanding of the nutrients in your foods is a helpful way to stay on track with a healthy diet. 

Below, you will find a detailed analysis of the nutritional value of corned beef.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)250
Net Carbs (g)0
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)14.9
Protein (g)27.1
Iron (mg)2.08
Sodium (mg)897
Cholesterol (mg)86

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170602/nutrients 

High in proteins

According to studies, a 165-pound person should aim to eat 60 grams of protein per day, and a serving of corned beef, which has 27 grams, is close to 50% of this daily recommendation.

Although corned beef falls into the processed meat category, the amount of protein found in this food is an undeniable benefit.

Moderate amount of fats

Because corned beef is a moderately fatty food with a 100-gram serving containing 19 grams of fat, it’s important to be mindful of your serving size since the recommended daily amount of saturated fat is 20–30 grams.

Zero carbs

Corned beef is a food that contains 0 carbohydrates. When eating corned beef, it’s important to include healthy whole grains in your meal to make it well-balanced.

Rich in minerals and vitamins

Corn beef is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including folate, B12, thiamin, selenium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients have crucial roles in your bodily functions and offer more benefits than regular beef.

Pastrami vs. Corned Beef

 Corned beefPastrami
Processing methodBoiled during processingSmoked and steamed 
Meat typeRed meat and one of many cured meats made from beefCan be made from beef, lamb, pork, chicken
Cut of meat Made with beef brisket, which has its fat content mostly around the exterior Cut in a navel cut so that when it is cooked, the fat distributes evenly
OriginClassic Irish-American meat served on many holidays such as St. Patrick’s dayJewish and American deli meat
TextureLean and dry meatMore smoky and rich in flavor, and less stringy
TasteSalty with a more bland flavor, which is why it is common to season corned beefPastrami is also salty but has more spice to it

Homemade Corned Beef Recipe

Try this delicious breakfast recipe and experience a flavor explosion that does not require a salt and spice solution.

Ingredients

  • 3oz corned beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1lb hash brown potatoes (frozen)
  • 2 tbsp beef broth
  • ¼ cup green onion
  • 2 cups red bell peppers 

Directions

  1. Prepare green onions and bell pepper to sautée in a frying pan with olive oil for 5–10 minutes.
  2. Proceed to add the corned beef brine mix and hash browns to the pan with any desired seasoning.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15–20 minutes or until hash browns are golden brown.
  4. Fry the eggs in a separate skillet, however desired.
  5. To serve, place the corned beef brisket and hashbrown mix on a plate and add the eggs on top to complete. 

Looking for more healthy recipes like the one above? Try checking out some of the best nutrition apps, where you’ll find various healthy recipes designed to help you reach your unique fitness goals.

FAQs

Is corned beef considered red or white meat?

Corned beef, like all beef products, is considered red meat. Meat from animals like poultry, veal, and rabbit is white meat.

Is corned beef fattening?

Yes, corned beef can be fattening, but only if overindulged in. Corned beef can be detrimental to weight loss due to its high-calorie content and levels of saturated fats.

Is corned beef processed meat?

Yes, corned beef is processed. Processed meats typically have a bad reputation for cancer-causing nitrates and high levels of sodium that can increase blood pressure and cholesterol.

Is corned beef high in sodium?

Yes, corned beef is high in sodium. One serving of corned beef contains 897mg of sodium, just under half the daily recommendation of 2,300mg. This is why it is important to consider portion sizes and pair corned beef with vegetables.

Is corned beef high in cholesterol?

Yes, corned beef is high in cholesterol, just like many other types of red meat, like burgers, steak, and lamb. The ratio of saturated animal fat is what leads to its high cholesterol content.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Although limiting the amount of processed red meat in your diet is important, that’s not to say that you must eliminate it completely.

Foods like corned beef are okay to enjoy occasionally (meaning a couple of times a month) as long as they’re consumed in moderation and in combination with high-fiber, low-cholesterol foods. Consuming foods high in dietary fiber can support the removal of LDL cholesterol from the digestive tract.

Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet and following a regular workout routine are two healthy habits that will allow you to eat the foods you enjoy without sacrificing your heart health.

Conclusion 

Corned beef is a food that has some potential health benefits but also some undeniable drawbacks too. Because of its high sodium and cholesterol content, limiting its amount in your diet is important.

That being said, it’s okay to enjoy occasionally, as long as you continue following a regular exercise routine and eating a well-balanced diet.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 13, 2023
7 min read 1310 Views 1 Comments
1 Comments
  1. user
    ddddd
    7 May, 2023 at 9:34 pm

    Great article

    reply reply reply
    Reply

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