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Is Ham Good for Diabetes? Important Facts to Know
Diabetes

Is Ham Good for Diabetes? Important Facts to Know

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 13, 2022
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5 min

Many people enjoy ham in foods like sandwiches, wraps, and salads. But this doesn’t mean ham can suit every diet or keep you healthy long-term. We explain whether ham is good for people with diabetes and how the ingredients could trigger blood sugar spikes.

Is ham good for diabetes
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People may enjoy ham for its low-carb content. 

Foods that are low in carbs usually promote good blood sugar management. This sounds great for those with diabetes, but ham isn’t always the healthiest option to have on a diet. However, picking up those ham slices might still be tempting when going to the grocery store.

Of course, adding ham to meals is easy, but should you do it? Learning about the nutritional value of this food could help you make better meal choices.

In this article, you’ll discover whether ham is good for diabetes, its glycemic index, nutritional value, and its alternatives when preparing lunch or having a snack.

Is Ham Good for Diabetes?

Yes, ham can be safe for people with diabetes, but only in moderation. Processed meats typically have fewer carbs, which won’t contribute to high blood glucose. However, ham still contains unhealthy additives that might harm your long-term health.

Ham is a popular food that goes with almost any meal. This means people will throw the product into their baskets when out grocery shopping, which isn’t always recommended for those with diabetes. Eating too much ham may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes causes a build-up of sugar that damages your blood vessels, leading to poor heart functions when not managed properly. Processed meats like ham often contain sodium – a mineral that triggers high blood pressure spikes and strains your heart.

So, even though ham won’t directly raise blood sugar, it will negatively affect your cardiovascular system in the long term. Always eat ham in moderation to stay healthy, especially if you have type 1 diabetes and want to stop your condition from worsening.

How Does Ham Affect Blood Sugar?

Ham and other types of lean meat won’t increase your blood sugar. They contain minimal carbohydrates, which stops your digestive system from breaking them down into glucose. However, not all lean meats are good for your heart, brain, and gut health.

Eating ham doesn’t have much effect on blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should still be wary of consuming processed meats. It is known that those who eat meat containing saturated fat could be more at risk of getting heart disease. 

Once you eat ham, the gut will start to digest it and absorb the most important nutrients like protein and selenium. Because it doesn’t have many carbs, your blood glucose will remain steady. Just be aware that ham can cause high blood pressure due to the sodium content.

Ham Nutritional Value per 100g

The lack of carbs in ham might sound great, but it still contains other unhealthy ingredients like saturated fats. Processed meat shouldn’t be a consistent product in a diabetes-friendly diet. By looking at the food label, you’ll learn more about bad fats, sodium, and preservatives.

Below, you’ll find the nutritional value of ham per 100 grams:

Net CarbsTotal CarbsFatsProtein
0.27g0.27g3.73g16.7g
CaloriesFiberSugarsGlycemic Index
1010g31.8g0

Ham Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of ham is 0, which counts as a low-glycemic food. People with diabetes use the glycemic index scale to determine whether a food will increase their blood glucose levels, so it’s worth checking this type of information regularly.

Since ham has a low GI rating, it won’t cause hyperglycemia symptoms like headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, and confusion. Even though processed ham doesn’t worsen your condition after consumption, it can still damage your long-term health when eaten excessively.

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Just remember that low-carb foods don’t always have healthy ingredients. Saturated fat, preservatives, and sugar in red meat raise cholesterol levels. The more LDL “bad” cholesterol you have in your body, the more likely you’ll get heart disease from clogged blood vessels.

Why Ham Is Not the Best Meat Option for Those With Diabetes

Ham contains lots of saturated fat, chemicals, and added sugar, which isn’t good for your general health. Of course, it might taste nice with meals, but always eat it in moderation. People usually eat lean meat like ground beef or chicken to stay healthy.

Keep reading to find 3 reasons why ham isn’t the best option:

#1 High sodium content

Foods with a high-sodium content can promote inflammation, raise LDL cholesterol, cause hypertension, and put you at an increased risk of heart disease. Ham is something you should avoid when protecting your blood vessels and helping your kidneys regulate water content.

#2 Processed food

Foods that have been tampered with during manufacturing usually hold lots of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Ham uses nitrites – nitrogen-based compounds that can negatively affect how your blood carries oxygen throughout the body.

#3 High in saturated fats

Processed foods, like ham and hot dogs, often contain saturated fats. These unhealthy fats can cause a build-up of plaque in your artery walls. Too many fatty deposits in your body will thicken arteries and make it harder for blood to reach your heart and other important organs.

Best Ham Alternatives for Diabetes

Choose lean pork, skinless chicken, lean beef, or pork chops without visible white fat. Pork tenderloin is one of the healthiest meats to have when it comes to managing diabetes. It is low in fat and high in protein, making it better than high-fat cuts.

However, chicken for diabetes is usually the preferable option. This is because it doesn’t contain any net carbs or saturated fat. Foods rich in protein can offer health benefits like better weight management, stronger muscle growth, and even higher serotonin levels.

Some people even opt for Canadian bacon or flank steak. They are leaner cuts compared to regular cured ham from the grocery store. Canadian bacon contains fewer calories, unhealthy fat, and salt, so it’s better to look for these alternatives when doing your weekly shopping.

A Word From Our MD

Even though ham tastes delicious, it is not necessarily good for your health. These deli meats are just fatty cuts that are harmful to the cardiovascular system. Of course, ham is safe in moderation, but it may become a habit to pair ham with almost every single meal.

To lower blood pressure and glycogen stores, eat healthier meat alternatives like chicken, pork steaks, and lean beef cuts. Extra lean foods are usually better for protecting your long-term health. Just make sure to check the label of certain meats when buying them in packaging.

One thing to note is that plant-based alternatives could be a stronger option. These foods are made with soy, pea, or wheat gluten, but they almost taste the same as regular meat. Some people with diabetes follow a plant-based diet to avoid eating highly processed meals.

Conclusion 

So, is ham really good for people with diabetes?
Ham won’t cause poorly controlled blood sugars, but it can damage your long-term health when not eaten moderately. You don’t want to worsen your symptoms of diabetes, so it’s better to avoid this processed food completely or eat it occasionally with low-carb meals.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
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.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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