The Truth About Nitrates in Boar’s Head Ham

As a deli meat lover I frequently find myself reaching for a pack of Boar’s Head ham to make a sandwich or wrap. Their ham is tasty, convenient, and seems higher quality than other brands. But recently I started hearing concerns about nitrates in deli meats being potentially harmful. This made me wonder – does Boar’s Head ham contain nitrates? Should I be worried about eating it? I decided to dig into the details to find out.

What Are Nitrates?

First, let’s cover what exactly nitrates are. Nitrates are chemical preservatives commonly used by the meat industry to prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life. When added to cured meats like ham, nitrates give the meat that nice pink color and distinctive flavor that consumers expect.

Sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate are the most frequently used types of nitrates. They are approved for use in foods by the FDA and USDA when used at allowable levels. However, there is some evidence linking nitrates to potential health risks.

Potential Risks of Nitrates

While nitrates themselves are not inherently dangerous when eaten they can be converted by the body into nitrites. High levels of nitrites may be linked to conditions like

  • Methemoglobinemia – Reduced ability of blood to carry oxygen, can be fatal in infants
  • Increased cancer risk – Possibly linked to gastric, esophageal, and colon cancers
  • Heart disease – May affect blood pressure and damage blood vessels

So while nitrates give deli meats like ham that appetizing pink color and tangy flavor, there are potential downsides if consumed in excess. That’s why some consumers look to avoid added nitrates when possible.

Does Boar’s Head Contain Nitrates?

With the potential risks in mind, I wanted to find out if my go-to Boar’s Head ham contains nitrates. According to their website and product packaging, Boar’s Head states that “No Nitrates or Nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in sea salt and cultured celery powder.”

This means that while their ham does not contain any synthetically produced nitrates, it does contain some naturally occurring nitrates from the celery powder used in processing The nitrates found naturally in celery and sea salt are generally considered safer than artificial nitrates

Boar’s Head takes the stance that they avoid artificial preservatives when possible in their products. However, they say use of natural nitrate sources like celery powder is necessary to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth in perishable deli meats.

Checking Ingredients Lists

To get more insight, I took a look at the detailed ingredients label on my pack of Ovengold Turkey Breast. It listed:

  • Turkey breast
  • Water
  • Sea salt
  • Natural flavorings
  • Cultured celery powder
  • Vinegar
  • Cherry powder

The main components are turkey with small amounts of vinegar and spices for flavor. The celery powder provides a natural source of nitrates for preservation.

I noticed that Boar’s Head also offers a line of deli meats labeled “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” which do not contain any celery powder or other natural nitrate sources. For those concerned about nitrate content, this line may be a better choice.

Health Risks From Deli Meat Nitrates

While the nitrates from celery powder are considered fairly minimal risk, it’s worth looking at the potential health implications of consuming any nitrates from deli meats:

  • Increased risk of colon cancer – Consuming just 50g of processed meat daily may increase risk by 18%
  • Heart disease – High processed meat intake linked to 42% higher risk of heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes – Processed meats may increase risk by 19-51%

However, these risks are mainly associated with consuming large amounts of processed meats regularly. Eating the occasional Boar’s Head turkey or ham sandwich is unlikely to significantly raise health risks for most people.

Tips for Reducing Nitrates in Your Diet

For those trying to limit nitrate intake from meats, here are some tips:

  • Choose “no nitrates/nitrites added” options when available
  • Look for uncured turkey, chicken, and roast beef
  • Limit portion sizes of processed deli meats
  • Enjoy unprocessed fresh meats like beef, pork, poultry
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in nitrates
  • Consider making your own fresh deli meat at home by roasting turkey breast or chicken

As with any food, moderation and variety are key for limiting any potential downsides.

The Bottom Line

So does Boar’s Head ham contain nitrates? While Boar’s Head does not add any synthetic nitrates to their ham, it does contain a small amount of naturally-occurring nitrates from celery powder used during processing. However, these natural nitrates are generally considered safer than artificial sources. Their “No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” line avoids natural sources as well for those concerned about intake.

While occasional deli meat consumption is unlikely to pose high health risks, limiting processed meats in your diet can help restrict nitrate levels. When buying deli meats, check labels for no nitrates/nitrites added, cured without nitrates, or uncured. Or stick to fresh, unprocessed forms of meat like chicken breast, beef, pork chops or turkey cutlets to avoid nitrates altogether. With some smart choices, you can still enjoy the convenience and flavor of Boar’s Head ham or turkey without worrying about unwanted additions like nitrates.

Are Deli Meat Labels Misleading You? Here Are the Facts | Oz Health

Does boar’s head Ham have nitrates?

No Nitrates or Nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in cultured celery powder and sea salt. Cholest. Made with premium cuts of hand-trimmed pork, then seasoned and slow cooked to perfection, Boar’s Head® All Natural* Traditional Uncured Ham delivers a delicious flavor that comes from All Natural* ingredients.

Does boar’s head have nitrates?

§No Nitrates or Nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in sea salt and cultured celery powder. ** Boar ’ s Head Brand defines humanely raised as animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors. Boar’s Head Provisions Co, Inc. Premium Deli Meats & Cheeses since 1905.

What is boar’s head Ham made of?

Made with premium cuts of hand-trimmed pork, then seasoned and slow cooked to perfection, Boar ‘ s Head All Natural * Traditional Uncured Ham delivers a delicious flavor that comes from All Natural * ingredients.

Is boar s head all natural?

As part of the Boar ‘ s Head All Natural * Collection, the pork is humanely raised ** with no added hormones or antibioticsꝉ, fed a vegetarian dietꝉ, and there are no added nitrites or nitrates‡. * No artificial ingredients, minimally processed.

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