Food Facts

Cook With Ham: Nutrition, Tips & Silly Food Facts


Silly Food Fact

Do you remember Dr. Seuss’ classic book, Green Eggs and Ham? Sam was finally convinced to try the eggs and ham, and then he declared, “Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am.” Well, green may not the color you want, but a moist slice of golden-pink ham is mouthwatering! Ham, of course, comes from pork. Nearly every country has its own special form of ham, with a specific method of salting, curing, and smoking.

Why Our Bodies Love It

Compared to other meat, ham is healthy! It’s among the leanest cuts of pork. One 3-oz serving of ham contains fewer calories, less fat, and less cholesterol than an equivalent pork chop, beef sirloin steak, or chicken thigh. In addition, ham offers vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, and riboflavin. Ham is high in sodium, however, as a result of the curing process. You can reduce the salt by soaking the ham in water prior to cooking, or look for a lean or low-sodium ham.

Care and Picking

There are three main types of ham: fresh, dry-cured, and wet-cured. Fresh ham—which you may not even consider to be ham—is basically a pork roast. Dry-cured ham, such as country ham, has been rubbed with salt and aged; it has a concentrated flavor. Wet-cured ham, or city ham, is the typical ham found in stores; it has been injected with a sweet brine solution and is usually fully cooked. Many hams have also been smoked for added flavor.

Learn more about selecting a ham

Tips and Warnings 

Water added to a ham affects its price, taste, and nutritional value.  A ham is cheaper with more water, but it is also more perishable and less healthy. There are strict guidelines on labeling a ham: “ham with natural juices” has less than 5% of added water; “ham – water added” cannot have more than 10% water; “ham and water product” can have any amount of water added. Some labels may say refrigeration is not required; but when it doubt, it’s always wise to keep ham well wrapped and in the refrigerator.

Check out this video on a favorite way to cook and carve a ham

Ham-Oscar Mayer Nutrition Facts Label copy

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