Bacon vs Sausage vs Ham: Which Has the Most Sodium?

Bacon, sausage, and ham are all popular processed meats that often grace breakfast tables and sandwiches across America. But when it comes to sodium content, which of these processed pork products is the saltiest?

I analyzed the nutrition facts to find out how bacon sausage and ham compare for sodium levels. Here’s a detailed look at how these meats stack up.

Sodium in Bacon

Bacon is a cured and smoked pork product that’s beloved for its smoky flavor and crispy texture when fried. To cure bacon, pork bellies are soaked in a brine solution, which is a mixture of salt and other seasonings.

A typical 2-slice serving of pan-fried bacon contains:

  • 288 mg sodium (12% DV)

So 2 slices of bacon contain about 12% of the recommended daily sodium intake, which is 2300 mg per day.

Bacon is cured during processing using sodium-containing salts like sodium nitrite. Then many people add even more salt when cooking bacon. Still, it’s one of the more moderately salty pork products.

Sodium in Sausage

Sausage is made from ground pork and seasonings stuffed into a casing. Like bacon, sausages require curing with sodium-rich salts to help preserve and flavor the meat.

A typical 2-ounce sausage patty or link contains:

  • 370-590 mg sodium (16-25% DV)

So a single sausage serving can provide up to 25% of your daily sodium needs. Sodium content varies widely by brand, with some sausages packing nearly double the sodium of others.

In general, fresh sausage sold in links tends to be on the lower end for sodium, while highly seasoned pre-cooked breakfast sausage patties are saltier. Check the nutrition label when comparing brands.

Sodium in Ham

Ham refers to pork from the leg cut that is cured and smoked. Hams are soaked in or injected with a salty brine solution during processing.

A typical 3-ounce serving of ham contains:

  • 1,107 mg sodium (48% DV)

So ham contains nearly half of the recommended daily sodium intake in just 3 ounces! That makes it considerably saltier than either bacon or sausage.

A primary reason ham is so high in sodium is the extended soaking in brine required to cure a large ham. The brining solution is absorbed deep into the meat.

Sodium Content Comparison

To summarize, here’s how the sodium in a typical serving of bacon, sausage, and ham compare:

  • Bacon (2 slices): 288 mg sodium
  • Sausage (2 oz): 370-590 mg sodium
  • Ham (3 oz): 1,107 mg sodium

So clearly, ham contains the most sodium out of the three by a wide margin. Just 3 ounces provides nearly 50% of the daily value, making it very high sodium.

Sausage also tends to be higher in sodium than bacon, but it varies depending on the type. Breakfast sausage patties are saltier than fresh sausage links and bratwurst.

Percent Daily Value Comparison

Another helpful way to visualize their sodium levels is to look at the percent daily value (%DV) based on a 2000 calorie diet:

Food Serving Size Sodium %DV
Bacon 2 slices (28g) 288 mg 12%
Sausage 2 oz (57g) 370-590 mg 16-25%
Ham 3 oz (85g) 1,107 mg 48%

As shown, ham provides nearly half of the daily recommended sodium in a single small serving, earning it the title of the saltiest of the three.

Reasons for Sodium Differences

There are a few key reasons why ham contains so much more sodium than bacon and sausage:

  • Larger cuts require more curing. Ham is a larger, single intact cut of meat that takes longer to cure. More brine is needed to evenly cure a 15-20 lb ham.

  • Ham is cured for longer. The ham curing process can take weeks or even months, allowing more sodium to diffuse into the meat. Bacon and sausage cure faster.

  • Hams are often country-cured. Many specialty hams use old-fashioned country curing methods that rely heavily on salt for preservation.

  • No standards for low-sodium. Bacon and sausage often have lower-sodium options, but very few hams are marketed as “low sodium.”

Health Concerns with High Sodium Meats

While processed meats like bacon, sausage, and ham are fine in moderation, regularly consuming any of them can have negative health impacts. However, ham’s sky-high sodium levels make it the most concerning.

High sodium intake is associated with increased risks of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Stomach cancer

Most health organizations recommend limiting sodium to 2,300 mg per day or less. People with high blood pressure or heart disease require even lower sodium levels.

With a single serving providing nearly half the daily limit, ham is easy to overconsume when it comes to sodium. The American Heart Association advises choosing lower-sodium options whenever possible.

If you are watching your sodium intake for medical reasons, bacon and sausage are better options than very salty ham.

Tips for Reducing Sodium from Processed Meats

Here are some tips to help reduce your sodium intake if you frequently eat bacon, sausage, ham or other processed meats:

  • Compare nutrition labels and choose lower sodium varieties.
  • Limit portion sizes, as sodium adds up quickly.
  • Skip adding extra salt during cooking.
  • Substitute fresh chicken, beef or pork in place of processed meats.
  • Rinse canned ham or bacon to remove some surface sodium.
  • Opt for low-sodium alternatives like turkey bacon or chicken sausage.
  • Pair meats with low-sodium foods to balance your meal.
  • Use fresh herbs, spices, citrus and garlic to flavor instead of salt.

Healthier Low-Sodium Protein Alternatives

Here are some healthier protein alternatives that are lower in sodium:

  • Fresh pork tenderloin or chops
  • Rotisserie chicken or lean turkey
  • Grilled salmon, tuna or shrimp
  • Roasted nuts and seeds
  • Eggs or egg whites
  • Beans, lentils and legumes
  • Tofu or tempeh

Varying your protein sources is a tasty way to avoid overdoing high-sodium meats.

The Bottom Line

Ham contains significantly more sodium than bacon and sausage, providing nearly 50% of the daily recommended value in a small serving. The extensive curing process required for large ham cuts results in sky-high sodium levels.

For minimizing your sodium intake, fresh or uncured pork and poultry as well as plant proteins like beans are healthier options. But if you do indulge in bacon, sausage or ham occasionally, be sure to keep portions small and balance them out with lower sodium foods the rest of the day.

What’s your favorite lower sodium protein food? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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


Which is healthier, bacon, ham 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 has more sodium, bacon or ham?

Bacon isn’t as high in sodium as country ham; it has about a third of the amount per serving, but it’s still a salty meat that’s generally high in fat. It’s not good for your intestines – or your heart.

Which has more sodium, bacon or sausage?

A serving of bacon contains 1,461 milligrams of sodium, while a serving of sausage contains 665 milligrams. This is a big portion of the 2,300-milligram daily limit recommendation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Is pork bacon high in sodium?

Bacon has lots of sodium, cholesterol, and fat, all of which can increase your risk of heart disease. But bacon does have other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just keep in mind that if you eat bacon, it’s best to do so occasionally and in small amounts.

How much sodium is in sausage & bacon?

Whether in links or patties, sausage averages 415 mg of sodium per 2-ounce (55-gram) serving, or 18% of the RDI ( 31 ). A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of bacon has 233 mg of sodium, or 10% of the RDI. Turkey bacon can pack just as much sodium, so check the nutrition label ( 43, 44 ).

Is there any choice for low sodium tomato sauce?

Best low sodium tomato sauce are tomato paste, canned tomatoes (unsalted), fresh tomatoes sauce, tomato soup, puréed eggplant, puréed bell peppers, puréed beets and carrots.

Is Bacon healthier than Ham?

While bacon may be lower in calories and fat than ham or sausage, it’s still high in sodium and contains nitrites that can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. Ham is high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Does Ham have more potassium than bacon?

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. However, it’s important to note that ham contains less iron than other meats like beef or chicken. For every 100 grams of cooked ham, there is 0.79mg of iron.

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