Is Deviled Ham Bad For You? A Closer Look at the Pros and Cons

Deviled ham holds a nostalgic spot in many people’s pantries. This classic canned meat spread has long been a staple for quick and easy sandwiches. But is deviled ham actually bad for your health?

The truth is, deviled ham contains some concerning ingredients. However it can still be enjoyed in moderation by those without dietary restrictions. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons to find out if deviled ham is bad for you.

What is Deviled Ham?

Deviled ham is a type of processed canned meat made from ground ham mixed with various spices. The term “deviled” refers to adding spices, usually hot ones like cayenne, mustard, or hot sauce, to foods like ham or eggs.

Popular brands like Underwood Deviled Ham have been around since the late 1800s To make it shelf-stable, deviled ham contains

  • Ground ham – made from the leftover scraps after ham is sliced
  • Sodium nitrite – cures and preserves the meat to prevent spoilage
  • Salt – for flavor and preservation
  • Spices – ingredients like red or black pepper, turmeric, mustard, etc.
  • Sugar – balances spice flavors in some varieties

The combination of these ingredients gives deviled ham its soft, spreadable texture and tangy bite.

Is Deviled Ham Healthy? Pros vs Cons

There are some advantages to deviled ham, but also considerable cons regarding its nutritional value. Let’s compare the pros and cons:

Pros of Deviled Ham

  • Convenient – ready to eat from the can for sandwiches, snacks, etc.
  • Inexpensive – typically costs just a couple dollars per can
  • Versatile – can be used in many dishes beyond just sandwiches
  • Long shelf life – cans last unopened for up to 4 years in the pantry

Cons of Deviled Ham

  • High sodium – one serving may contain over 500mg, increased risk of high blood pressure
  • Nitrites – possible link to cancer with high intake
  • Fat and cholesterol – high in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Preservatives – contains chemicals to prevent spoilage
  • Lower nutritional value – lacks nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, etc.
  • Processed meat – associated with health risks like heart disease and diabetes

As you can see, the convenience comes at the cost of sodium, preservatives, and fat. But how bad are these cons for your health?

Is Canned Deviled Ham Unhealthy?

Research shows there are legitimate health concerns with frequent deviled ham consumption. Here are two of the biggest risks:

1. Sodium intake

  • Most brands contain around 500mg sodium per serving
  • Consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Adults should aim for no more than 2300mg sodium daily

2. Nitrites/nitrates

  • Sodium nitrite is commonly added to cured and processed meats
  • Studies link nitrites to increased risk of colon, stomach, and other cancers
  • Some brands now offer nitrite-free deviled ham

Beyond just these two factors, the saturated fat and cholesterol levels may also be unhealthy if you eat deviled ham regularly.

However, having it occasionally in moderate portions is unlikely to carry big risks for most people. Those with high blood pressure or sodium-restricted diets should be more cautious.

Healthier Ways to Enjoy Deviled Ham

If you don’t want to give up deviled ham completely, there are a few ways to make it a bit healthier:

  • Choose low-sodium or nitrite-free varieties
  • Eat smaller servings – limit to 1-2 tbsp at a time
  • Avoid brands with added sugar
  • Balance with vegetable sides and hydration
  • Make your own version at home with less sodium

You can also swap in some healthier alternatives:

  • Mash up canned salmon or tuna with spices for sandwiches
  • Use hummus, avocado, nut butters for spreads instead
  • Try turkey, chicken, or egg salad for savory protein

Enjoying deviled ham occasionally while focusing on moderation and sodium intake can allow you to satisfy the craving without overdoing the unhealthy elements.

Common Questions about Deviled Ham

If you’re new to thinking about the health effects of processed foods, you may have some questions about deviled ham. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is deviled ham Keto-friendly?

Most deviled hams are low carb, but may be too high in processed ingredients, sugar, and sodium to be considered clean keto. Read labels and stick to 1-2 tbsp servings.

Is Underwood deviled ham healthy?

Underwood and most major brands contain concerning levels of sodium, nitrites, and saturated fat. Underwood’s version has added sugar. Consume in moderation.

Does deviled ham need to be refrigerated?

Canned deviled ham is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration until opened. Refrigerate leftovers after opening.

Can pregnant women eat deviled ham?

Pregnant women should avoid or limit cold processed meats like deviled ham due to the risk of Listeria food poisoning. Speak to your doctor about any dietary restrictions.

Is deviled ham gluten free?

Most major brands of deviled ham are gluten-free. However, always check labels for gluten-containing ingredients like wheat.

The Verdict: Is Deviled Ham Bad For You?

At the end of the day, deviled ham is not the healthiest choice. The high sodium, nitrites, fat, and preservatives are concerning with regular consumption or large portions. However, those without dietary restrictions can still enjoy small amounts on occasion, for example 2-3 times per month.

To make deviled ham a better option, read labels and look for low-sodium, additive-free options. Balance intake with vegetables, exercise, and hydration. And consider making your own healthier version at home.

While deviled ham will never be classified as a health food, the occasional indulgence and trip down memory lane likely won’t do considerable harm – as long as you limit portions and frequency. Use nutrition labels and your best judgment to consume deviled ham in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

A Healthier Homemade Deviled Ham Recipe

If you want to recreate the deviled ham flavor at home without as much sodium or preservatives, try this recipe:


  • 8oz cooked ham, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1⁄2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp onion powder
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)


  1. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  3. Serve on sandwiches or as a dip with crackers or veggies.
  4. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

With this homemade version, you control the quality of ingredients. It skips the artificial preservatives and uses minimal salt. Make a batch to have on hand for a quick protein snack or sandwich whenever a deviled ham craving strikes!

Wtf is a can of Underwood Deviled Ham … and why did I get paid to eat this sandwich on camera?


Is canned deviled ham bad for you?

Deviled Ham That’s better for you than the stuff that comes in cans at the supermarket. It often has too much salt and preservatives like sodium nitrate — a chemical that in larger quantities may make you more likely to have heart disease or diabetes.

What is deviled ham made of?

Deviled ham is ground ham mixed with spicy seasonings, such as chili peppers, cayenne peppers, or mustard. The William Underwood Company, founded in Boston in 1822, found success providing canned foods to the U.S. Army during the Civil War and to settlers who needed long-lasting food products for their trip west.

Is deviled ham like spam?

It is not to be confused with Spam, which involves a meat mixture mostly consisting of pork shoulder, and lacks deviled ham’s spicier flavor. The word “devil” appeared in relation to food in the 1700s, and the word “deviled” appeared in 1800 in the following phrase: “At half past two ate a devil’d kidney”.

How many calories are in a deviled ham?

Amount Per Serving

What is deviled ham?

Deviled ham is ground ham with added spices such as hot sauce, cayenne pepper, hot peppers, or mustard. The act of deviling, or spicing and sprucing up, can be done to a variety of food products, such as chicken, turkey, lobster, and of course, eggs. Deviled ham has long been a popular canned good, but can also be made at home with a blender.

Is ham good for someone with diabetes?

No. Ham, like other processed meats, is not a healthy food for anyone and should not be consumed often due to its high content of chemical additives.

Is Ham bad for You?

Whether you prefer it honey-baked, deviled or slapped between rye, ham is one of the most popular — and inexpensive — ways to put meat on the table. But what you save in dollars now could end up costing you more later, as the disadvantages of ham make it an unhealthy choice to nourish your body.

Do you eat deviled ham with crackers?

My Aunt Lynne used to serve Underwood deviled ham with crackers as an appetizer and I would hover over the dish, inhaling one after another, spoiling my dinner and not regretful in the slightest. From then on, deviled ham was my favorite and I’d always squirrel a can or two into my mother’s grocery cart when she wasn’t looking.

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