Ham vs Sausage: Which Breakfast Meat is Healthier?

Ham and sausage are both popular breakfast meats. But when it comes to nutrition, is ham actually healthier than sausage? Or does sausage win out? Let’s dive into the details and compare these two processed meats.

Nutrition Profile of Ham

Ham is pork that has been cured, smoked, or both Here are some key nutrients it provides

  • Protein – Ham contains a good amount of protein, with about 18g per 3oz serving. This helps with muscle repair and feeling full.

  • B Vitamins – Ham provides B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and B12 These support energy and brain function.

  • Iron – A serving of ham offers around 10% of the recommended daily intake for iron, which aids blood and oxygen circulation.

  • Zinc – Ham contains zinc, an essential mineral for immune health and wound healing.

  • Selenium – This mineral in ham acts as an antioxidant to protect cells.

However, there are some downsides to regular ham consumption:

  • Saturated Fat – Ham contains high levels of saturated fat, which can raise LDL cholesterol levels.

  • Sodium – Processed deli ham tends to be very high in sodium, which may increase blood pressure.

  • Nitrates/Nitrites – These preservatives used to cure ham could potentially increase cancer risk with frequent high intake.

Nutrition Profile of Sausage

Like ham, sausage has its pros and cons nutritionally:


  • Protein – Sausage provides about 13g protein per 2oz serving.

  • Iron – Each 2oz sausage link contains around 10% of your daily iron needs.

  • B Vitamins – Sausage contains B vitamins including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

  • Zinc – Zinc in sausage supports immune function and cell growth.


  • Saturated Fat – Sausage is very high in saturated fat, containing around 5g per 2oz link.

  • Sodium – There can be up to 350mg sodium in just one sausage link.

  • Nitrates – Preservatives like sodium nitrite are commonly used in sausage.

  • High Calories – A 2oz link of pork breakfast sausage packs around 150 calories.

So in terms of nutrients, ham and sausage are fairly similar. However, sausage tends to be higher in calories, sodium and saturated fat overall.

Comparing Protein in Ham and Sausage

Both ham and sausage provide protein, but there are some key differences:

  • Ham has around 18g protein per 3oz serving

  • Sausage contains approximately 13g protein per 2oz link

  • Ounce for ounce, ham offers more protein than sausage

  • Ham protein comes only from pork, while sausage can contain other meats

  • Sausage may have fillers and extenders that dilute its protein content

So for pure protein, ham has a slight advantage over sausage. But sausage still provides a decent 13g protein for only 150 calories.

Comparing Fat Content

The main nutritional difference between ham and sausage is in their fat content:

  • Ham has about 5g fat per 3oz serving, 2g saturated fat

  • Sausage contains around 12g fat per 2oz link, 5g saturated fat

  • Sausage has nearly 2.5 times more total fat than ham

  • The saturated fat content of sausage is more than double that of ham

Clearly, sausage contains significantly higher amounts of fats, especially unhealthy saturated fats. This makes ham the better choice for heart health.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, ham and sausage are fairly similar:

  • Both provide niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium

  • Sausage contains slightly more iron than ham

  • Ham offers more thiamin, riboflavin and phosphorus

  • Sausage has a little more folate and potassium

There are no major advantages for either in terms of micronutrients. However, ham may edge out sausage slightly when it comes to B vitamins.

Health Risks of Ham and Sausage

There are some potential health concerns with eating too much ham or sausage:

  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes from the high saturated fat content

  • Higher cancer risk from frequent consumption of processed meats with nitrites

  • Potential for gout flares due to high purine levels, especially with sausage

  • Weight gain if eating large portions frequently due to the high calorie counts

  • Increased sodium levels, often drastically more than the daily recommended limit

Moderation is key with both ham and sausage to limit these potential risks. Those with specific health conditions like gout or high blood pressure may need to monitor intake closely or avoid them.

Healthier Alternatives to Ham and Sausage

For those looking to cut back on processed meats, here are some healthier breakfast options:

  • Turkey sausage or bacon
  • Canadian bacon or lean ham
  • Tofu “sausage” patties or tempeh “bacon”
  • Smoked salmon orlox
  • Egg white omelets or scrambles
  • Veggie scrambles with peppers, onions, spinach
  • Avocado toast on whole grain bread
  • Oatmeal or whole grain cereal
  • Greek yogurt bowls with fresh fruit and nuts

The Verdict: Is Ham or Sausage Healthier?

When comparing ham versus sausage, ham comes out slightly ahead in terms of nutrition and health:

  • Ham is lower in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and calories

  • Ham provides more protein per ounce than sausage

  • Ham offers slightly more B vitamins than sausage

  • Health risks associated with overconsumption are lower for ham than sausage

However, both should be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Limit portion sizes to 2-3oz a few times per week. Choose uncured, nitrite-free options when possible. And balance out with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So if you’re deciding between ham or sausage for breakfast, ham is the marginally better choice. But watch your portions of both and fill your plate with more wholesome plant-based foods for optimal health.

Bacon, sausages, burgers and ham ‘can cause cancer’, the World Health Organisation says


Which is healthiest ham bacon or sausage?

Bacon, which is made by curing strips of meat from the belly and sides of a pig, is less processed than sausage, as it’s made from whole meat pieces rather than a mix of components. Bacon, including pastured bacon, can also be made without nitrates, preservatives which can damage your health.

What breakfast meat is the healthiest?

1. Turkey — best for low-fat and high protein. Sliced turkey, even if it’s processed deli meat, is low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein. This makes it an ideal option for anyone attempting to increase muscle growth while limiting calories.

Does ham or sausage have less calories?

Leaner meat options, such as ham, will generally have fewer calories than other processed meats like bacon, salami, pastrami, roast beef and even sausage.

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.

What is the difference between Ham and sausage?

Ham is high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Sausage, on the other hand, is often made from processed meats that can be high in unhealthy fats and sodium, as well as potentially containing byproducts like heart, kidney, and liver that may concentrate toxins.

Is sausage casing healthier option to eat?

Cellulose casings and some natural casings are perfectly fine to eat. Sausage casings are used to hold and shape filling inside so that it can be cooked. There are natural sausage casings and synthetic varieties, and most of them are edible. The healthiest way to cook them is by boiling or baking. Sausages provide high levels of vitamin B12 and iron, both of which are essential for healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin production.

Is Ham a good meat?

Key Point: Ham is a meat product made from hind pork leg that typically has a curing, smoking, or aging process. Let’s begin by examining some of the positives; like most meat products, ham provides a significant amount of protein. According to USDA data, the lean segment of roasted ham offers 25 grams of protein per 100 grams by weight ( 3 ).

Is ham good for You?

One advantage of ham is that it’s a good source of potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and proper muscle function. In fact, ham contains more potassium than bacon. Ham also contains some iron, which is essential for the production of hemoglobin and the transport of oxygen throughout the body.

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