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Is Pastrami Healthy? Calories, Macros, and More
Nutrition

Is Pastrami Healthy? Calories, Macros, and More

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 26, 2023
53 Views
6 min

Deli meat tends to have a bad reputation regarding a heart-healthy diet, but does that mean all varieties are off-limits? This article discusses whether you can enjoy pastrami as part of a balanced diet or if it’s best kept for those special occasions on the calendar.

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Are you keen to include your favorite luncheon meat in your diet?

Cold cuts are convenient foods you can quickly stack into a sandwich or throw into a salad. Aside from requiring zero preparation on your part, they’re usually salty, fatty, and delicious. However, when building a healthy diet, you might wonder if these foods are healthy.

Pastrami is a popular cut of meat usually made from beef brisket. It makes a classic sandwich on rye bread with pickles and homemade mustard, but is it a healthy option?

Read on to discover the complete nutritional profile of pastrami and its impact on your body.

Is Pastrami Healthy?

Pastrami is a type of cured meat that is generally considered unhealthy. Like many types of deli meat, pastrami is high in sodium. You must be mindful of your daily sodium intake, as too much can heighten your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Still, pastrami contains less saturated fat and calories than other processed meats, like bacon and ham. It is a lean meat containing essential amino acids, iron, zinc, and other nutrients. So, it’s not all bad. You can eat pastrami in moderation and still gain some health benefits.

Furthermore, it’s typically served on rye bread, which is among the best bread for health.

Beef pastrami is the most popular variety, but you can opt for turkey pastrami if you prefer poultry. Both make for low-calorie sandwich options, but turkey pastrami contains fewer calories and saturated fats than beef pastrami if you’re eager to make the healthiest sandwich.

3 Health Benefits of Pastrami

While processed foods are typically considered an unhealthy addition to any diet, pastrami does boast some advantages. Pastrami is especially more beneficial when compared with some other deli meats due to its calorie and macronutrient content.

Just remember not to go overboard when eating this processed meat.

Here are 3 benefits of opting for pastrami luncheon meat:

#1 Low in saturated fat

Unlike many deli meats, pastrami is surprisingly low in saturated fats, making it a better option if you want to protect your heart. It has 5.82g of fat in a 100g serving, 2.68g of which is saturated. Too much saturated fat in a diet increases blood cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Turkey pastrami has even less saturated fat and about the same number of calories as deli turkey. Limiting your saturated fat intake can also stop you from eating too many calories, preventing unwanted weight gain.

#2 Source of protein

Pastrami is a complete source of protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It has more than enough grams of protein to build and protect your muscles and bones. Protein can aid weight loss as it fills you up, which might prevent you from eating too many calories.

#3 Rich in vitamin B12

Pastrami contains vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for a robust immune system. It is responsible for DNA, red blood cell production, and keeping your nerve cells healthy. You can get plenty of vitamin B12 in your diet from meat, fish, and dairy products.

3 Disadvantages of Pastrami

Pastrami has its benefits, but you should not overeat this fatty meat. A good diet should consist of whole foods with plenty of nutrients and minimal processing. It’s always best to avoid eating too much processed meat as it can be detrimental to your long-term health.

Here are 3 disadvantages of eating pastrami:

#1 High in sodium

The salt content varies between products, but pastrami contains a lot of sodium overall. Too much sodium is bad for your heart health because it increases blood pressure. With 1080mg of sodium per 100g, eating pastrami often will add too much sodium to your diet.

#2 It is processed meat

It might not be one of the highest-fat meats, but pastrami is still highly processed. Consuming too much red and processed meat is associated with increased cancer risk. You should fill your diet with nutritious whole foods and lean meat sources that require minimal or no processing.

#3 High in cholesterol

Not all high-cholesterol foods are harmful to your health. Eggs and shellfish, for example, are healthy additions to a diet despite their cholesterol content, but certain foods can raise your blood cholesterol. A high intake of processed meat can increase your risk of heart disease.

Nutrition Facts of Pastrami

The only way to determine whether a product is healthy is to assess what it contains. Checking both calories and macronutrients on the nutrition label will help you create a healthier diet. Now that you know the advantages and drawbacks, let’s look at what a serving of beef pastrami contains.

Nutritional value per 100g

Calories/Nutrients per 100gAmount
Calories (kcal)147
Net Carbs (g)0.36
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0.1
Fats (Total)5.82
Protein (g)21.8
Cholesterol (mg)68

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170204/nutrients 

Low in carbs

A great thing about pastrami is that it is a low-carb product. Beef pastrami contains only 0.36g of carbohydrates. That means you can easily incorporate it into a low-carb diet if trying to shift unwanted fat. Some people might eat beef or turkey pastrami on a ketogenic diet.

High in protein

Beef pastrami contains 21.8g of protein. High-protein foods are excellent for keeping strong muscles and bones. Consuming beef pastrami might fuel your workouts when trying to lose fat while maintaining muscle. A high-protein diet can also reduce your body weight.

Low in calories

100g of beef pastrami has 147 calories, and the same serving of turkey pastrami has only 125 calories. Low-calorie food options can help you lose weight fast and prevent weight gain. They can protect your overall health as high-calorie foods usually harm your heart.

How to Make a Healthy Pastrami Sandwich

There’s no denying that both beef and turkey pastrami provide a protein-rich meal, but there are always ways to make a healthier sandwich. Common ingredients like creamy sauces and Swiss cheese build a high-fat meal, but you can swap these for a low-calorie sandwich filler.

Here’s how to keep beef pastrami healthy in a sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices turkey pastrami
  • 5 finely cut slices of apple
  • 2 tbsp drained sauerkraut
  • 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 2 small slices of rye bread or other full-grain bread

How to prepare

  1. Spread the whole-grain mustard on one or both slices of rye bread.
  2. Layer the turkey pastrami, apple, and sauerkraut between the bread, and enjoy!

For more guidance on healthy pastrami recipes, you can try DoFasting. The smartphone app features multiple recipes that fit over 20 diets, from ketogenic to vegan. DoFasting makes building and maintaining a balanced diet focused on eating nutritious foods easier.

FAQs

Is pastrami eaten hot or cold?

Pastrami can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. The signature pastrami in rye sandwiches in New York City is usually served warm with toasted bread and melted cheese.

What can I do with pastrami besides making a sandwich?

A pastrami sandwich is a classic dish, but you can serve it with other recipes. Some people enjoy pastrami with potatoes and vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower and broccoli. You might like to pair pastrami with a nutritious salad if you want to skip the carbohydrates.

Can I eat pastrami without cooking it?

Yes, you can safely consume pastrami without cooking it first. That’s because pastrami is already cooked when you buy it, so you can eat it immediately from the packet as a cold luncheon meat. Still, many people like to reheat pastrami for a warming meal.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Pastrami is a smoked and cured deli meat that is made from brisket, like corned beef or corn beef, but it comes from the fattier navel end. The smoking process makes the tough meat tender and full of flavor. You can also make it from lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey.

Processed foods like pastrami, bacon, corned beef, and sausages are not the best choices when building a diet that prioritizes nutrition. These foods are high in sodium, and their consumption can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

You also need to be mindful of your saturated fat intake with processed foods, as too much saturated fat in the diet increases blood cholesterol.

You can keep an eye on your daily sodium intake by opting for healthier cuts of lean meat, such as pork tenderloin, roast beef, and wagyu beef. If you prefer poultry, skinless chicken breast, chicken sausages, and turkey sausages are all suitable choices for a balanced meal plan.

Conclusion

So, is pastrami a good choice for your health? Both beef and turkey pastrami provide essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and a few grams of fat. However, you should have pastrami sparingly because it is still processed meat. It’s better to choose lean meat without processing, such as lean turkey and chicken breast.

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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