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Salami vs. Pepperoni — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 14, 2024
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Salami
vs
Pepperoni

Summary

Pepperoni is cheaper and spicier when it comes to its taste. Pepperoni is higher in calories and fat content but richer in vitamins A, E, and D. Comparatively, salami is richer in proteins, most B complex vitamins, and minerals. They mostly have negative impacts on overall health.

Introduction

Pepperoni is an American-Italian creation. It is derived from salami in the United States. It is made with cured beef or pork meat with paprika, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, and other spices. It is most famous as a pizza topping and one of the essential toppings in American pizzerias. Pepperoni was first prepared in New York in 1919; it was done by Italians who had moved to the United States, mostly from the southern part of Italy, where salami was famous. Pepperoni is famous for foods like pizza, meat boards, pepperoni rolls with cheese, etc. It is the most common type of topping on pizza.

On the other hand, salami has originated in Italy since the Roman ages; however, many European countries have their type of salami because it can stay without refrigeration for up to 40 days, even when cut. Salami production has to undergo two steps which are fermentation and drying.

What is the actual difference?

There are differences between pepperoni and salami. These differences vary among its origin, price, preparation methods, shelf life, and taste, among other things.

Origin

Pepperoni was created in New York by Italians who moved there in 1919. Whereas salami was created in Italy in the Roman ages, many European countries have versions.

Price

Salami is more expensive than pepperoni.

Methods of preparation

The main difference between pepperoni and salami is that pepperoni is prepared by curing meat, either pork or beef. It has finer ground meat with spicier flavors compared to salami. Covering the whole pepperoni is an artificial casing. On the other hand, salami has to undergo two steps of preparation which are fermentation and drying. Salami has to be mixed with yeast and bacteria to start the fermentation process. In addition, salami is cased in a gut casing, which is natural.

Shelflife

Salami has a longer shelf life; even if cut, it can stay in a clean environment without refrigeration for 40 days. This is the main important usage of this meat in old civilizations where refrigerators didn't exist. A constant supply of meat that can stay up to 40 days without rotting.

Taste

Pepperoni is saltier and spicier than salami. Pepperoni is finer ground meat that is mostly softer than salami; however, both are soft cuts with a wide range of flavor profiles.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between pepperoni and salami according to their differences based on their nutritional content, diet and weight loss, and health impacts.

You can also read the comparison of pepperoni vs chorizo

Nutritional content comparison

Glycemic index

Both pepperoni and salami are low glycemic index foods.

Calories

Pepperoni is 1.5 times higher in calories compared to salami. This difference is very significant between them.

Pepperoni contains 504 calories in comparison to salami which contains 336 calories. 

Carbs

They are both low in carbs. Comparatively, salami contains more carbs than pepperoni.

Protein

Salami is richer in proteins than pepperoni. Pepperoni contains 19.25g of proteins, whereas salami contains 21.85g.

It is important to note that both are rich in protein and have complete essential amino acid profiles.

Fats

Fat contents in both foods are very high and must be considered during diets and everyday consumption of pepperoni or salami. Pepperoni contains almost double the amount of fat as salami. Nearly 46% of pepperoni's weight is fat.

Their fat profiles are mainly distributed among saturated fats and monounsaturated fats. The latter has a higher content in both.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -47.4%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +86.7%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +76.3%
41% 48% 11%
Saturated Fat: 9.316 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 11.127 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.529 g
41% 48% 10%
Saturated Fat: 17.708 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 20.77 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 4.458 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -47.4%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +86.7%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +76.3%

Cholesterol

Pepperoni is higher in cholesterol than salami. Pepperoni contains 97mg of cholesterol, while salami contains 89mg.

Vitamin profile

Comparatively, salami has a richer and more versatile vitamin profile than pepperoni. Salami is richer in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12. On the other hand, pepperoni is richer in vitamins A, D, and E.

The vitamin B complex content of salami is very rich and satisfies high amounts of the recommended daily values of each of the B complex vitamins.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Salami
6
:
Contains more Vitamin B1 +35.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +38.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +21.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +29.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +26.8%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +16.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +368.2%
Contains more Vitamin D +30%
Contains more Folate +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +81.3%
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% 30% 0% 92% 83% 114% 73% 106% 3% 191% 8%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 21% 39% 0% 68% 60% 94% 56% 84% 4% 163% 15%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +35.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +38.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +21.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +29.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +26.8%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +16.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +368.2%
Contains more Vitamin D +30%
Contains more Folate +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +81.3%

Mineral profile

Salami is richer in all minerals. Salami is richer in phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron. In addition, salami has a higher content of sodium which is a matter of concern. Noting that pepperoni is also high in sodium.

Both are very high in sodium. Pepperoni and salami contain 1582mg and 1740mg of sodium per 100g serving, respectively. Pepperoni covers up to 70% of the recommended daily sodium intake.

In the diagram below, we can visualize their distribution. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +17.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +20.9%
Contains more Potassium +15.3%
Contains more Zinc +20.1%
Contains more Copper +292.3%
Contains more Calcium +26.7%
Equal in Magnesium - 18
Equal in Sodium - 1582
Equal in Manganese - 1.074
Equal in Selenium - 29
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 5% 59% 14% 82% 28% 227% 80% 119% 128% 171%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 6% 50% 13% 68% 25% 207% 67% 31% 141% 159%
Contains more Iron +17.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +20.9%
Contains more Potassium +15.3%
Contains more Zinc +20.1%
Contains more Copper +292.3%
Contains more Calcium +26.7%
Equal in Magnesium - 18
Equal in Sodium - 1582
Equal in Manganese - 1.074
Equal in Selenium - 29

Diet and weight loss

Pepperoni and salami are not recommended to be eaten on weight-loss regimens. This is mostly owing to their high fat and salt content. Despite being high in protein, they have a high-fat content. Furthermore, the salt levels, particularly in salami, are very high.

Vegan

Pepperoni and salami are excluded from the vegan diet. However, some vegan alternatives for both are available. Each vegan version is usually made out of wheat gluten and other spices.

Keto

On a keto diet, you can consume pepperoni and salami. They have low carbohydrate and glycemic index, and their macronutrient makeup comprises protein and lipids. However, it is vital to note that the salt level of these foods should be considered when consuming them.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Both pepperoni and salami are processed meats typically high in saturated fats and cholesterol. An increased intake of saturated fats and cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke (1).

Processed meats like pepperoni and salami often contain high levels of sodium, which can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), a significant risk factor for CVD (2).

Both pepperoni and salami often contain nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives and to enhance flavor and color. There is some evidence to suggest that excessive consumption of nitrates and nitrites, especially from processed meats, may be linked to an increased risk of certain cardiovascular conditions (3).

Both pepperoni and salami are calorie-dense foods, which can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

In summary, both pepperoni and salami are processed meats that are typically high in saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, and calories, which are all factors that can contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. Consuming these meats in moderation and as part of a balanced diet is important for reducing the risk of CVD. Choosing leaner protein sources and reducing your intake of processed meats can also help promote heart health.

Cancer

Nitrates and nitrites in processed meat have a role in inhibiting bacterial growth, increasing the shelf life of these products. However, nitrates are transformed into nitrites due to the effect of anaerobic bacteria. Nitrites have a carcinogenic characteristic that must be considered while consuming processed meat. The meat industry is trying to find alternatives for nitrites and nitrates; however, finding an alternative is challenging due to their multi-role usage (4).

Digestion

Both pepperoni and salami may trigger heartburn.

People with acid reflux, GERD, peptic ulcer disease, IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), and pancreatitis should avoid both pepperoni and salami, as they may worsen the symptoms (5, 6, 7).

People with gastroparesis may also benefit from avoiding these foods.

Alternatives

Vegan pepperoni has different products used to make pepperoni, like tofu, vital wheat gluten, legumes, etc. The fat, cholesterol, and sodium level are drastically decreased and provide a healthy alternative to pepperoni. However, taste and flavor must be compromised in this case.

On the other hand, there are vegan alternatives to salami, mainly made with vital wheat gluten. Like pepperoni, fat, cholesterol, and sodium levels are decreased.

Both vegan alternatives provide healthier alternatives to the standard pepperoni and salami. Their nutritional content would be decreased from most negative health impacts like fat, sodium, and cholesterol. However, their protein content would also be reduced. In addition to that difference, the taste and flavor would be changed; however, vegan pepperoni and salami producers are catering to those qualities to match the standard pepperoni and salami as much as they can.

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 14, 2024
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Salami vs Pepperoni infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +13.5%
Contains more Carbs +103.4%
Contains more Water +58.3%
Contains more Fats +78.7%
Equal in Other - 4.74
22% 26% 2% 45% 5%
Protein: 21.85 g
Fats: 25.9 g
Carbs: 2.4 g
Water: 45.19 g
Other: 4.66 g
19% 46% 29% 5%
Protein: 19.25 g
Fats: 46.28 g
Carbs: 1.18 g
Water: 28.55 g
Other: 4.74 g
Contains more Protein +13.5%
Contains more Carbs +103.4%
Contains more Water +58.3%
Contains more Fats +78.7%
Equal in Other - 4.74

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Salami Pepperoni
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Salami Pepperoni Opinion
Net carbs 2.4g 1.18g Salami
Protein 21.85g 19.25g Salami
Fats 25.9g 46.28g Pepperoni
Carbs 2.4g 1.18g Salami
Calories 336kcal 504kcal Pepperoni
Sugar 0.96g 0g Pepperoni
Calcium 15mg 19mg Pepperoni
Iron 1.56mg 1.33mg Salami
Magnesium 19mg 18mg Salami
Phosphorus 191mg 158mg Salami
Potassium 316mg 274mg Salami
Sodium 1740mg 1582mg Pepperoni
Zinc 2.93mg 2.44mg Salami
Copper 0.357mg 0.091mg Salami
Manganese 0.978mg 1.074mg Pepperoni
Selenium 31.3µg 29µg Salami
Vitamin E 0.22mg 1.03mg Pepperoni
Vitamin D 41IU 52IU Pepperoni
Vitamin D 1µg 1.3µg Pepperoni
Vitamin B1 0.367mg 0.271mg Salami
Vitamin B2 0.357mg 0.257mg Salami
Vitamin B3 6.053mg 4.987mg Salami
Vitamin B5 1.201mg 0.93mg Salami
Vitamin B6 0.459mg 0.362mg Salami
Folate 3µg 5µg Pepperoni
Vitamin B12 1.52µg 1.3µg Salami
Vitamin K 3.2µg 5.8µg Pepperoni
Tryptophan 0.114mg 0.23mg Pepperoni
Threonine 0.521mg 0.869mg Pepperoni
Isoleucine 0.675mg 0.901mg Pepperoni
Leucine 0.929mg 1.575mg Pepperoni
Lysine 1.107mg 1.652mg Pepperoni
Methionine 0.301mg 0.511mg Pepperoni
Phenylalanine 0.481mg 0.778mg Pepperoni
Valine 0.668mg 0.987mg Pepperoni
Histidine 0.359mg 0.688mg Pepperoni
Cholesterol 89mg 97mg Salami
Trans Fat 0.586g 1.527g Salami
Saturated Fat 9.316g 17.708g Salami
Omega-3 - DHA 0g 0.004g Pepperoni
Omega-3 - EPA 0g 0.004g Pepperoni
Omega-3 - DPA 0g 0.02g Pepperoni
Monounsaturated Fat 11.127g 20.77g Pepperoni
Polyunsaturated fat 2.529g 4.458g Pepperoni
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.084g 0.136g Pepperoni
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 2.104g 3.605g Pepperoni
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0g 0.002g Pepperoni
Omega-3 - ALA 0.126g 0.164g Pepperoni
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.018g Pepperoni
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.04g Pepperoni

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Salami Pepperoni
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
58%
Salami
50%
Pepperoni
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
91%
Salami
76%
Pepperoni

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Salami
Salami is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 8mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Salami
Salami is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 8.392g)
Which food is cheaper?
Salami
Salami is cheaper (difference - $0.3)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Salami
Salami is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Pepperoni
Pepperoni is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.96g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pepperoni
Pepperoni contains less Sodium (difference - 158mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (28)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
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

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Salami - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172936/nutrients
  2. Pepperoni - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174575/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.