Is pepperoni a healthy snack, you ask?
Well, pepperoni is not something that usually comes to mind when you think about healthy snacks. However, there are some benefits of pepperoni that make it more than worthy of being considered part of a regular snack rotation. While not a complete protein source like other meats, it contains tryptophan, making pepperoni a healthy snack which supports healthy moods and helps you relax and fall asleep easier at night.
Being one of the most popular pizza toppings in the United States also doesn’t mean that it’s completely healthy. In fact, some people choose to avoid pepperoni because they assume it’s full of sodium and saturated fat, both ingredients that can have adverse effects on heart health and overall wellness. While pepperoni is often high in these nutrients, it also has plenty of benefits that make it an acceptable addition to your diet in moderation.
If you love pepperoni but worry about its nutrition content, this article will clear up any misconceptions you may have about the health benefits of pepperoni.
Is Pepperoni Healthy?
Let’s have a look at whether pepperoni is a healthy snack in this section.
There is no doubt that it is high in fat when it comes to pepperoni. A single slice of pepperoni can contain upwards of 10 grams of fat, making it one of the fattiest meats on the market.
However, not all of this fat is bad for you. Pepperoni is also a good source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health. When eaten in moderation, research has found that pepperoni doesn’t negatively affect blood pressure or cholesterol levels. This means that even though pepperoni does contain a significant amount of fat, most of it comes from good-for-you types like mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
These healthy fats have been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol, which may help prevent heart disease.
Pepperoni contains several minerals which offer a range of health benefits. For example, it is a good source of potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance, magnesium is essential for energy production and healthy bones, and zinc is needed for wound healing and immune system function.
In addition to its mineral content, pepperoni also contains antioxidants. These nutrients eliminate dangerous chemicals and metabolites, stopping inflammation and protecting cells from injury. The antioxidants found in pepperoni can help protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Pepperoni also contains selenium, an essential antioxidant that maintains your immune system robust by limiting dangerous free radicals formed as a result of metabolism and by environmental factors such as pollution. In addition, selenium is important for reproduction, the metabolism of thyroid hormones, and the formation of DNA. According to the USDA, one serving of pepperoni provides 15 percent of the recommended requirement for selenium.
Nitrates are often found in cured and processed meat. These are preservatives that enhance the taste of meat while also extending its shelf life. Nitrates also stop hazardous germs from growing and may induce methemoglobinemia, a kind of anaemia that stops your haemoglobin from delivering oxygen. It is possible to raise your chance of developing some forms of cancer due to the breakdown of proteins in meat.
While the nitrate content in pepperoni is not as high as in other processed meats like bacon or ham, it is still something to be aware of. If you are going to snack on pepperoni, try to limit yourself to no more than a few pieces at a time. And balance out your pepperoni consumption with plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
The Meat Content Offers Plenty of Protein
The protein in pepperoni is high quality, containing all nine essential amino acids. This makes it a complete protein, and that’s an important feature when you’re snacking on a piece of meat or cheese to keep your energy levels even throughout the day. It also keeps your muscles from breaking down as you consume fewer calories than your body needs to function effectively over time.
High-quality protein also helps preserve muscle mass, so you lose fat rather than lean tissue while dieting. One ounce of pepperoni contains more than 8 grams of protein; consider enjoying it as part of a meal (along with fibre-rich fruits and veggies) rather than a snack alone for best results in weight loss and nutrition.
Great Source of Iron
Fatty red meats like pepperoni are an excellent source of iron. Iron is essential to human life and is an integral part of red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout our bodies; without sufficient iron levels in our system, we can become weak and fatigued.
The recommended daily intake for men is 8 mg per day and 18 mg per day for women. One serving of pepperoni (about 2 oz) contains 2 mg of iron, making it a great snack choice if you’re looking to get your daily dose.
Try adding some extra cheese on top for even more nutrients!
Some Disadvantages of Pepperoni
Although pepperoni is a delicious snack that can help curb hunger while satisfying your taste buds, there are some drawbacks to eating it. Because of its high sodium content, pepperoni isn’t recommended for people with high blood pressure or heart disease.
And because it’s a cured meat, like salami and bologna, certain strains of listeria can grow on the surface of pepperoni and cause food poisoning. The calorie count in a single slice of pepperoni is also high. One slice has around 100 calories, which means you could easily exceed your daily calorie intake if you have more than one serving in a day.
Our Final Thoughts
While it may be hard to believe that pepperoni is a healthy snack, when consumed in moderation, it is pretty low in calories and has plenty of protein and nutrition that your body needs. Whether you’re eating pepperoni to stay healthy or simply because you love the taste, make sure you’re buying the right kind. Natural pepperoni should contain minimal fillers and additives and only be made with natural meats, spices and herbs. It should also have a recognizable texture that can hold up to your favorite dipping sauces like ranch dressing or marinara sauce (not chunky bits of gristle that stick between your teeth).