Ham Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  11 min read
ham benefits and side effects

Health

Ham side effects may include:

Ham benefits may include:

Additionally, ham is…

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Environment

Water footprint: high, 5,677 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of hams, shoulders and cuts thereof, of swine bone in, fresh or chilled / 680 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of hams, shoulders and cuts thereof, of swine bone in, fresh or chilled

Carbon footprint: high, 9.31 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed, frozen ham, a car driving equivalent of 21.5 miles or 34.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, ham production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction

Ham is…

Animals

Kills: pigs, 170,000+ pigs die in transport per year, more than 420,000 crippled by the time they get to slaughterhouse, improper stunning methods and fast line speeds means many live through intended slaughter and still alive as they’re dumped into hair-removal tanks, killed by drowning in scalding-hot water

Harms: pigs, entire lives crowded tightly in warehouses, kept on drugs to grow faster, many become crippled under their own bulk, forced to live in their own feces, vomit and amid corpses of other pigs, conditions so filthy more than one-quarter of pigs suffer from mange, mother pigs spend most of their lives in tiny “gestation” crates, which are so small they cannot turn around or lie down comfortably, piglets taken from their distraught mothers after a few weeks, tails chopped off, teeth clipped off with pliers and males castrated; all without painkillers

Indirectly kills or harms: ecosystems and wildlife, habitat contamination (water/soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing)

Ham is…

Laborers

Health and safety: hazardous, meat processing workers have some of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness in the USA, the work environment in processing plants is dirty, dangerous, at times machines that injure workers by crushing, amputating, burning and slicing them, workers use tools such as knives, hooks, scissors, and saws, injuries include cuts, stabs, infections, scars, scratches, missing fingers, swollen joints, working conditions are humid, slippery, loud, hot or below freezing resulting in respiratory problems, skin infections and falls, workers experience

Living conditions: poor, workers must process thousands of animals per day, they are pressured to work as fast as possible, rest breaks and bathroom breaks are discouraged or denied, many workers must wear diapers, they experience stress, physical and emotional pain

Wages: low, in the USA workers are poorly compensated and earn under $15 an hour, they are often pushed to work faster so companies can profit more

Ham has…

China is the world’s top pork producer followed by the European Union (Germany and Spain), the United States and Brazil.

In the United States most pork comes from Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Illinois.

The world’s top pork exporting country is USA, followed by Denmark, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, UK, Ireland and Poland.

Ham is high in protein, iron and carbohydrates but also high in cholesterol, saturated fats and sodium.

ham is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is ham alkaline or acidic?

Ham is acidic.

What is the pH level of ham?

Ham has a 4.5 pH level once digested. Meat is an acidic food group.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

ham is gluten free but cold cuts and lunch meats may contain gluten.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is ham gluten free?

It depends. Ham is naturally gluten free but cold cuts and lunch meats may contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

ham is not a common food allergen but cold cuts and lunch meats may contain wheat.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is ham a common food allergen?

No, ham is not a common food allergen. However, cold cuts and lunch meats may contain wheat, a common food allergen.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

ham has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does ham have a high or low water footprint?

Ham has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of ham?

It takes 5,677 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of hams, shoulders and cuts thereof, of swine bone in, fresh or chilled / 680 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of hams, shoulders and cuts thereof, of swine bone in, fresh or chilled.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

ham has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does ham have a high or low carbon footprint?

Ham has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of ham?

It takes around 9.31 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of processed, frozen ham, a car driving equivalent of 21.5 miles or 34.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

ham is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is ham eco friendly? Is ham sustainable?

Ham production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

ham is not vegan.

vegan pork alternative

Is ham vegan?

No, ham is not vegan. Ham is meat, the product of a pig, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A pig must be killed in order to produce ham. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

ham has labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is ham a product with labor concerns?

Yes. At this time there are concerns with ham production and livestock farming.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even face harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Hams – USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Pork, cured, ham with natural juices, spiral slice, boneless

How many animals are killed for food every day

Human rights watch:“When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting” Workers’ Rights Under Threat in US Meat and Poultry Plants

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer. I organize ethical info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers planet. Use HEALabel to go vegan, live sustainably and optimize your health!

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