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Ham vs Turkey meat - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on July 26, 2021
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Ham
vs
Turkey meat

Summary

Turkey meat is fresh meat, richer in vitamins, protein, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium. It is also higher in fat and cholesterol. In comparison, ham is richer in zinc, potassium, and iron. Ham has high sodium content. Overall, turkey meat is a better alternative than ham.

Introduction

Turkey meat is the world's second most popular poultry meat, and it is a cost-effective source of high-quality protein for human use. Turkey meat was consumed in the 15th century in central America. As Europeans started colonizing these lands, they took turkey back with them to Europe. Turkey meat became part of European cuisine in the 16th century. As traditions progressed, turkey meat was an essential part of one of the most famous American holidays, Thanksgiving. During Thanksgiving, as families gather together, the turkey is the center of all attention during this holiday. Similar to Thanksgiving, during the Victorian era in Britain, turkey meat was served during Christmas dinner. This shows how important and prestigious turkey meat can be considered since the 15th century.

Ham has been part of the human diet since the 2nd century BC. There is a debate on the origin of ham; some claim that the Chinese were the first to process it, and some claim that the Gaul, which is the civilization that lived in France during those times, introduced cured ham. Similar to turkey meat, ham is also served during the Christmas holidays in Europe.

Culinary world

Turkey meat is fresh white meat, usually oven-roasted with different herbs and spices. They are usually associated with cranberry sauce and some pies. However, another way turkey meat can be served is by cold cuts. Turkey cold cuts can be eaten with fancy dry wine accompanied by a meat and cheese selection board. It is most preferable to have smoked turkey breast cuts with wine. Turkey cold cuts can also be part of a healthy salad or a healthy sandwich.

Cured ham is mostly served as cold cuts; it is processed meat. They are mainly used as pizza toppings, the famous Croque Monsieur, and the Cubano. When they are part of sandwiches, they are mostly a couple of slices which are even below the recommended moderate amounts. Thus they do not cause any health problems. In addition to cold cuts, ham is served as a Christmas dinner in Europe. It is also part of a good charcuterie board that goes well with a dry red wine.

Shelf life

There is a reason that ham was part of the human diet in the 2nd century BC is because it is cured, salted, and even smoked. A pork leg that is salted and cured becomes ham, and this can even stay unrefrigerated if kept in proper conditions. These conditions are humidity and direct sunlight. This prevents it from rotting and spoiling. Turkey meat, on the other hand, needs refrigeration and has a shorter shelf life.

Religious aspect

In some religions like the Jewish and Islamic religions, pork meat is forbidden and thus cannot be consumed. This affects a lot of aspects of ham. For example, in the Arab world, it is hard to find ham, and if it is available, it is usually more expensive than it is usually.

Price

Turkey meat is cheaper compared to ham. Ham, more often than usual, is considered a delicate cold cut. However, cheap cuts are also available in the market. As the quality of pork and the smokiness increase, it becomes more expensive if the ham is boneless.

This article will discuss the difference between turkey meat and ham based on their difference in nutritional data, weight loss, diet effects, and health impacts.

Nutritional Data Comparison

In this comparative section, we will compare roasted turkey meat with skin with roasted and cured lean pork ham, which is approximately 5% fat.

Calories

Turkey meat is higher in calories compared to turkey. They are not classified as high-calorie foods; however, we cannot say that they are low in calories.

Glycemic index

Both turkey meat and ham have a glycemic index that is equal to 0.

Carbs

Turkey meat contains nearly 0g of carbs, whereas ham contains 1.5g, which is still considered negligible.

Proteins

Turkey meat is richer in protein by nearly 1.5 times compared to ham. Turkey meat contains 28g of protein, whereas ham contains 20g.

When we dissect the protein profile of both turkey meat and ham, we find that they are rich in all the essential amino acids that we require daily to be consumed from the diet.

Fats

Turkey meat has a higher fat content compared to ham. Turkey meat contains 7.5g of fat, whereas ham contains 5.5g.

However, both are below the 10% required daily value threshold. They are mostly made of unsaturated fats.

Trans fat

Ham is higher in trans fats compared to Turkey meat. Turkey meat has negligible amounts of trans fat.

Trans fat consumption has a dietary relevance. It is important to monitor the trans fat intake. It should be in minimal amounts. If possible, avoiding it altogether is the healthiest approach.

Cholesterol

Turkey meat contains higher amounts of cholesterol compared to ham. Turkey meat contains 109 mg of cholesterol which is double the amount that ham contains. Taking into consideration, the daily upper limit is 300mg.

Minerals

Turkey meat, compared to ham, is richer in phosphorus, copper, and magnesium. On the other hand, ham is richer in zinc, potassium, and iron. It is important to take into consideration the high amounts of sodium in ham. Ham contains 1200mg of sodium which is more than 50% of the daily recommended value.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +35.8%
Contains more Potassium +20.1%
Contains more Zinc +16.1%
Contains more Calcium +75%
Contains more Magnesium +114.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +13.8%
Contains less Sodium -91.4%
Contains more Copper +17.7%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 3% 56% 10% 85% 26% 157% 79% 27%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 5% 41% 22% 96% 22% 14% 68% 31%
Contains more Iron +35.8%
Contains more Potassium +20.1%
Contains more Zinc +16.1%
Contains more Calcium +75%
Contains more Magnesium +114.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +13.8%
Contains less Sodium -91.4%
Contains more Copper +17.7%

Vitamins

Turkey meat is richer in vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. In addition to the B complex vitamins, it is also richer in folate. However, the amount of folate is not of high relevance. In comparison, ham is richer in vitamin B1 and D.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Ham
3
:
Contains more Vitamin E +257.1%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1575.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +39.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +138%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +135.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +54%
Contains more Folate +200%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +56.9%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 5% 24% 0% 189% 47% 76% 25% 93% 3% 82% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 3% 2% 12% 0% 12% 65% 180% 57% 143% 7% 128% 0%
Contains more Vitamin E +257.1%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1575.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +39.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +138%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +135.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +54%
Contains more Folate +200%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +56.9%

Diets and weight loss

Turkey meat and ham are low in carbs, high in proteins, and have rich vitamin and mineral profiles, although a difference exists between them. They are a good source of protein when consumed in moderation. For example, turkey meat is richer in proteins; however, it has a higher fat content and cholesterol. Moderate consumption for both is important, mainly due to the sodium when it comes to ham and cholesterol in turkey meat.

Turkey meat is a good alternative to fattier protein sources. It is a good option for bodybuilders as it provides adequate amounts of proteins, necessary polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Ham is also a good addition to everyday diets. Similar to turkey meat, they are also fit to be consumed when it comes to bodybuilding.

Keto

Turkey meat and ham are both suitable for the keto diet. Their glycemic index is 0, and their carb content is negligible. They are one of the most recommended sources of proteins to be consumed in the keto diet.

Vegan

Both turkey meat and ham are animal source proteins that are not consumed in the vegan diet.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Consumption of turkey meat is linked with reduced risks of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is positively associated with longevity and survival. Risks of developing cardiovascular disease were decreased by 19% when red meat was replaced by turkey meat and mostly white meat. This shows that turkey meat is a good alternative to red meat to reduce cardiovascular diseases and maintain a healthy balanced diet. (1)(2)(3)

There is no association between moderate amounts of cured ham and the development of cardiovascular diseases. However, an important aspect of ham is the content of sodium that needs to be taken into consideration. Prolonged exposure to high levels of sodium can cause negative effects on overall health. In addition to that, if the individual is hypertensive, the ham should be avoided or eaten in less than moderate amounts keeping track of the sodium intake. (4)

Diabetes and obesity

The difference between turkey meat and ham is that turkey meat is fresh meat, whereas ham is processed cured meat. The levels of sodium and nitrates are higher in processed meat compared to fresh meat. All these have a factor in diabetes and obesity. However, in moderation and lower quantities, they shouldn't cause health problems for healthy individuals. Data shows that replacing the protein source in diets with fresh white meat reduces the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders, and obesity. When it comes to diabetes and obesity, turkey meat is a better option. (5)(6)(7)

Cancer

Turkey meat has no direct relationship in increasing the risks of any cancer. However, a study shows that consumption of poultry meat, in this case, turkey meat, has decreased the risk of developing lung cancer by 10%.

In comparison, ham high in sodium has a direct relationship with increased risks of developing gastric cancer. (8)(9)

Concerning overall health impacts, turkey meat is a better alternative to ham. This is because turkey meat is fresh white meat, whereas ham is cured processed meat. Overall, turkey meat provides a healthier dietary profile regarding its health impacts and weight loss effects.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23354681/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10584044/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16002829/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19811792/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24744219/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20479151/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23858089/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20099187/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22855553/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 26, 2021

Infographic

Ham vs Turkey meat infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Ham Turkey meat
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal
Rich in minerals Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Ham Turkey meat Opinion
Net carbs 1.5g 0.06g Ham
Protein 20.93g 28.55g Turkey meat
Fats 5.53g 7.39g Turkey meat
Carbs 1.5g 0.06g Ham
Calories 145kcal 189kcal Turkey meat
Starch g g
Fructose g g
Sugar 0g 0g
Fiber 0g 0g
Calcium 8mg 14mg Turkey meat
Iron 1.48mg 1.09mg Ham
Magnesium 14mg 30mg Turkey meat
Phosphorus 196mg 223mg Turkey meat
Potassium 287mg 239mg Ham
Sodium 1203mg 103mg Turkey meat
Zinc 2.88mg 2.48mg Ham
Copper 0.079mg 0.093mg Turkey meat
Vitamin A 0IU 39IU Turkey meat
Vitamin E 0.25mg 0.07mg Ham
Vitamin D 32IU 15IU Ham
Vitamin D 0.8µg 0.4µg Ham
Vitamin C 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B1 0.754mg 0.045mg Ham
Vitamin B2 0.202mg 0.281mg Turkey meat
Vitamin B3 4.023mg 9.573mg Turkey meat
Vitamin B5 0.403mg 0.948mg Turkey meat
Vitamin B6 0.4mg 0.616mg Turkey meat
Folate 3µg 9µg Turkey meat
Vitamin B12 0.65µg 1.02µg Turkey meat
Vitamin K 0µg 0µg
Tryptophan 0.251mg 0.291mg Turkey meat
Threonine 0.931mg 1.004mg Turkey meat
Isoleucine 0.918mg 0.796mg Ham
Leucine 1.661mg 1.925mg Turkey meat
Lysine 1.775mg 2.282mg Turkey meat
Methionine 0.553mg 0.724mg Turkey meat
Phenylalanine 0.904mg 0.903mg Ham
Valine 0.908mg 0.902mg Ham
Histidine 0.75mg 0.749mg Ham
Cholesterol 53mg 109mg Ham
Trans Fat g 0.101g Ham
Saturated Fat 1.81g 2.155g Ham
Monounsaturated Fat 2.62g 2.647g Turkey meat
Polyunsaturated fat 0.54g 2.119g Turkey meat

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Ham Turkey meat
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
45
Ham
50
Turkey meat
Mineral Summary Score
55
Ham
37
Turkey meat

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
126%
Ham
171%
Turkey meat
Carbohydrates
2%
Ham
0%
Turkey meat
Fats
26%
Ham
34%
Turkey meat

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Turkey meat
Turkey meat contains less Sodium (difference - 1100mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Turkey meat
Turkey meat is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Ham
Ham is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 56mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Ham
Ham is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.345g)
Which food is cheaper?
Ham
Ham is cheaper (difference - $1.5)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Ham - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167871/nutrients
  2. Turkey meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171479/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.