As a person with diabetes, you’ve probably wondered if you can eat ham since ham is low in carbs which is the primary nutrient that affects blood sugar levels. Ham is rich in proteins, and unlike carbohydrates, protein doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.
Ham is processed red meat gotten from the rear leg of a pig, usually preserved by curing, smoking, hanging, and aging, which means despite the health benefits of ham, there are still some ham constituents that are not beneficial to your health.
Nutrition Facts Of Ham
The nutrients you can find in a serving of plain ham include:
- Fat: 3.15 g
- Carbs: 0.27 g
- Protein: 16.7 g
- Sodium: 1040 mg
- Phosphorus: 261 mg
- Zinc: 1.25 mg
- Potassium: 425 mg
- Iron:0.58 mg
- Copper: 0.05 mg
- Magnesium: 18.8 mg
- Selenium: 20 mcg
How Is Ham Made?
Ham is processed pork, and pork is usually processed by one or all of the following methods:
Cutting: ham can be either kept with the bone, used partially boned, or boneless with a shank end fatter than the butt end, making it easier to cut.
Curing: curing can also be done using two methods; wet curing and dry curing. Wet curing involves soaking the ham in brine, a saltwater solution, and the brine also contains herbs. It is soaked for 3-14 days before smoking. While dry curing, on the other hand, involves using the same ingredients, covering the ham in a layer of salt and herbs, pressing once in a while to remove blood. The curing process continues until it absorbs the salt, this preserving it.
Smoking: the cured ham is then smoked at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks. This gives the ham a flavor unique to smoked ham.
Cooking: the ham can also be partially cooked at 137 degrees Fahrenheit but is usually baked before serving. If it is fully cooked, it will be cooked at a temperature of 148 degrees Fahrenheit and is slightly heated before being served.
Aging: this is a mixture of all the previously mentioned methods, the ham is aged for an extended period, and during the aging process, the ham is also cured, smoked, and hanged. The procedure lasts for about 1 to 8 years. They are usually more expensive than other kinds of ham because they have a unique flavor that other processed hams don’t have. Aged hams generally grow mold, but it is scraped and washed off before consumption.
Canned ham is mechanically produced. The meat is finely chopped, then preserved and flavored, then it is reshaped and packaged.
Benefits Of Eating Ham
It is rich in nutrients: ham contains a significant amount of nutrients, ham is rich in phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, which are very important in human metabolism and help fight infections, it also provides 76% of the daily requirement of selenium which is also an essential nutrient necessary in reproduction, and also helps fight against infections, and helps in preventing heart diseases, selenium deficiency has also been associated with thyroid disease.
Ham also contains a high amount of iron, thiamine, B vitamins, a rich dietary source of choline, and coenzyme Q10, antioxidants that aid in producing energy and brain function. It is also a dietary source of protein and contains nine essential amino acids that aid metabolism, cell messaging, and gene expression.
These nutrients are beneficial not only to diabetics but to everyone.
Aids weight loss: obesity is one of the things people with diabetes avoid is obesity because it leads to many complications. Ham is a low-calorie density food. Foods like this improve satiety. That is, it makes you feel full for a longer time, helps you watch your food intake, and enables you to eat in moderation. Although if you’re trying to lose weight, it is more advisable to eat leafy greens because eating ham in excess has its health risks.
Helps maintain muscle mass: ham, like other protein-rich foods, is an excellent source of amino acids, and they help maintain muscle mass. Studies have shown that dietary protein intake increases plasma amino acids activating muscle protein synthesis, which results in a gradual increase in muscle mass, strength, and functions.
Ham is also rich in creatine, a source of energy for the muscles, and even increases your ability to exercise and stay fit and healthy.
Ham has anti-inflammatory properties: people with diabetes are usually at risk of chronic inflammation because the immune system recognizes the excess blood glucose as an invader. The immune system then initiates an immune response, one of which is inflammation. Continuous presence of high blood sugar levels causes long-term inflammation, which is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes damage to the body systems.
Ham contains active bioptides that are anti-inflammatory and counter the inflammatory effects of the immune system. It also prevents the actions of some platelets, thus reducing the risk of chronic inflammation in diabetics.
Health Risks of Diabetics Eating Ham
Despite the many benefits of eating ham, people are advised to consume it moderately as some of its nutrients are at increased levels and may create adverse effects in both diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Some of these adverse effects include:
- Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Typically, people with diabetes are at risk of heart failure because high blood glucose levels increase the risks of damage to blood vessels, including nerves that regulate the blood vessels and heart. This damage often results in heart failure.
Ham is rich in sodium and contains 43% of the recommended daily required intake, and processed ham even has a higher sodium content than plain ham. Too much sodium causes fluid retention around the heart and lungs, causing the heart to pump blood harder, which leads to heart failure. Although too little sodium is not advisable as it is also dangerous. For this reason, people with diabetes should try to take the required amount of sodium intake daily.
- Increased Risk of High Blood Pressure
An excess amount of sodium also affects blood pressure. Sodium is necessary for fluid balance in the body. Still, when it’s in excess, the body retains fluid to wash off the excess sodium. The excess amount of fluid creates pressure around the heart and blood vessels. Excess sodium and cholesterol also clog the arteries, causing hardening, resulting in arteriosclerosis, causing constriction of the heart vessels, and increasing blood pressure.
People with diabetes with high blood pressure are at increased for heart failure, resulting in diabetic complications like nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy. They are diabetic complications of the kidney, neurons, and eyes, respectively.
- Can reduce insulin sensitivity
Ham contains a high amount of saturated fats, and studies have proven that excess intake of saturated fat can be toxic to the body. The body causes inflammation and oxidative stress in human adipose tissue in its effort to flush out the toxin. This affects the functioning of the mitochondria, which in turn affects the insulin signaling resulting in insulin resistance.
- High intake of saturated fats
Ham contains a considerable amount of saturated fat. People with diabetes especially are asked to reduce their intake of saturated fats because it increases the level of LDL in the body, also known as bad cholesterol, and reduces the level of HDL
Both diabetics and non-diabetics should reduce the intake of ham and other processed fats to avoid this. Increased intake of saturated fats is associated with many complications like hypertension, heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes. Increased levels are toxic to the body, affecting a lot of the body’s systems functioning.
- Increased risk of foodborne diseases
Studies have shown that ham and other processed meats are sometimes mechanical vectors for various microorganisms like Listeria, Staphylococcus, and Toxoplasma gondii bacteria. This is why people who are immunosuppressed or have weak immune systems are ad iced to keep away from them because they are liable to be infected than other people.
While ham has several nutrients beneficial to your health, you should eat in moderation because regularly eating processed meats like ham increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart failure. Also, other diabetic complications that are very dangerous for your health. You can reduce your ham intake, limit your ham consumption to fresh, less-processed ones, or substitute ham for healthier food substances that will provide the same nutrients with reduced risks.
If you can’t eliminate ham from your diet, you can reduce it and combine it with food rich in fiber, as fiber eliminates the toxic saturated fats from the body. To reduce the risk of high blood pressure, you need to reduce the intake of ham and combine it with food rich in potassium as they help lower blood pressure and counter the effect of sodium in the body. Food rich in nitrates also helps lower the risk of high blood pressure.
It would be best if you discussed with your health care provider as they are in the best position to decide what will influence your diet.