Is Flakes of Ham Good For You? Analyzing the Nutrition of This Processed Meat

Flakes of ham are a dried, shredded version of cured and smoked ham. The thin, wispy shreds can be used as a smoky topping for salads soups, eggs, pasta and more. But is this processed meat actually good for your health?

Like most cured meats, flakes of ham offer convenience along with some concerns By understanding the nutritional pros and cons, you can make informed decisions about incorporating flakes of ham into a balanced diet.

What are Flakes of Ham?

Flakes of ham are made by shredding or “flaking” fully cooked smoked ham into thin strands, The flakes are then dried to remove moisture Major brands include Hormel and Maple Leaf

Compared to deli ham slices or chunks of ham, flakes offer some advantages:

  • Long shelf life – Lasts for months in the pantry

  • Portion control – Sold in small cans for single servings

  • Versatility – Easy to sprinkle onto anything

  • Smokey flavor – Provides a punch of smoky ham taste

However, the drying and curing process also impacts the nutrition profile. Let’s analyze the good and bad when it comes to flakes of ham.

Potential Benefits of Flakes of Ham

In moderation, flakes of ham can provide some nutritional upside:

  • Protein – About 8-10 grams of protein per serving. Helps maintain and build muscle.

  • B Vitamins – Ham contains B12, B6, and niacin. These support energy and brain function.

  • Iron – Provides a good amount of the mineral iron needed for circulation and immunity.

  • Convenient -Shelf-stable and ready to eat from the can. Adds quick flavor to meals.

  • Lower fat – Flakes are lower in fat than solid ham pieces. Less marbling due to shredding method.

Overall, flakes of ham can be a handy source of protein, B vitamins, and iron when used as a flavoring accent in reasonable amounts. The drying process also slightly concentrates the nutrition compared to fresh ham.

Potential Drawbacks of Flakes of Ham

However, there are also some nutritional aspects to keep in mind:

  • High sodium – A 1/3 can contains over 300mg sodium, or 13% daily value.

  • Nitrates – Curing salt contains nitrates linked to cancer risk.

  • Lacks nutrients – Does not provide vitamins C, E, or A, fiber, or beneficial fats.

  • Heavily processed – Shredding, curing, smoking, and drying make it highly processed.

  • Preservatives – May contain preservatives like sodium erythorbate.

  • Carcinogens – Smoking produce carcinogenic compounds.

Due to the salty, nitrate-containing curing process and extended drying method, flakes of ham are far from a whole food. The WHO recommends limiting processed meat intake due to increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

Tips for Incorporating Flakes of Ham Healthfully

While flakes of ham are very convenient, they should be used sparingly as part of an overall nutritious diet. Here are some tips:

  • Use just 1-2 tablespoons per serving as a flavoring instead of main protein source.

  • Balance with antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies at meals.

  • Choose low-sodium varieties whenever possible.

  • Opt for brands without excess fillers, sugars, or preservatives.

  • Enjoy flakes of ham just 2-3 times per week rather than daily.

  • Pair with whole grains, healthy fats, beans, nuts and seeds to balance nutrition.

  • Watch portions and avoid over-consuming processed meats.

By using flakes of ham as more of a smoky accent and limiting intake, you can incorporate this shelf-stable product without overdoing the downsides.

Healthy and Creative Ways to Use Flakes of Ham

Beyond just tossing some on a salad, get creative with how you incorporate flakes of ham into dishes:

  • Add to omelets, frittatas, or breakfast tacos

  • Mix into pasta salads, potato salads, or chickpea salads

  • Sprinkle over soups, stews, beans, or chili

  • Fold into scrambled eggs or breakfast burritos

  • Top pizza, flatbreads, or bruschetta before baking

  • Mix into dips like hummus, bean dip, or creamy cheese spreads

  • Add crunch to mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes

  • Use as a sandwich filling along with cheese and mustard

  • Garnish Bloody Mary cocktails!

The smoky shreds provide a pop of flavor, crunch, and visual appeal to balance the nutrition in plant-based meals. Get creative with how you incorporate flakes into recipes beyond just sprinkling them on a salad.

Nutrition Comparison to Other Cured Ham Products

How do the nutrients in flakes of ham compare to other popular cured ham products? Here’s a look:

Flakes of ham (1/3 cup)

  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 310mg
  • Protein: 9g

Deli ham slices (2 oz)

  • Calories: 60
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 450mg
  • Protein: 8g

Canned ham (1/2 cup)

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 9g
  • Sodium: 600-1000mg
  • Protein: 12g

While convenient, flakes offer more sodium than deli ham in a smaller serving size. Canned ham tends to be the highest in sodium, but also provides more protein. Overall, all cured hams run high in sodium so moderation is key.

Should You Avoid Flakes of Ham If Trying to Eat Clean?

The “clean eating” diet focuses on whole, minimally processed foods. Some clean eating fans try to avoid cured meats altogether due to the processing methods. However, including flakes of ham occasionally can add flavor variety if your diet is otherwise packed with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

When incorporating flakes of ham in a clean eating lifestyle:

  • Check the ingredient list and choose products without excessive fillers or chemicals.

  • Use just 1-2 tablespoons at a time as a flavor booster instead of dietary staple.

  • Balance out the sodium and nitrates with antioxidant-rich foods like berries, tomatoes, citrus, greens, etc.

  • Limit to just a few times per week rather than making a daily habit.

If consuming as part of an otherwise nutrient-dense diet, occasional small servings of flakes of ham can fit into a clean eating approach. But they should absolutely not be a dietary centerpiece.

The Bottom Line on Flakes of Ham

At the end of the day, flakes of ham provide convenience along with some nutritional trade-offs. While the smoky shreds can add flavor, texture, and protein to meals, the sodium, nitrates, and lack of nutrients are downsides.

When used in moderation, flakes of ham can have a place in an overall healthy regimen. But it’s wise to keep intake occasional, pair with antioxidant foods, watch portions, and choose low-sodium options when possible. Flakes of ham are far from health food, but with some caution they can be an occasional component of a balanced diet.

Viewer requested. Flakes of ham.


What is the healthiest type of ham?

Choose Uncured Options You’ll find glazed honey hams, brown sugar cured hams, and other options that are loaded with salt and sugar. Choose uncured options instead. These are usually marked as fresh and are more organic choices that you can season later as you desire.

Is ham healthy or unhealthy?

A Quick Review. Ham contains important nutrients such as selenium, phosphorous, and B vitamins, but it also comes with some health risks. Eating ham, along with other red meats, may raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, affect your life expectancy, and take a toll on the environment.

How much protein is in ham flakes?

Net carbs

Is ham considered a junk food?

Ham itself is not inherently considered junk food. It’s a source of protein and many other nutrients. Many commercially available hams, especially highly processed and cured varieties, can be high in sodium, which is salt.

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