Pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings out there and we also love to snack on them straight from the packet or throw them onto our cheeseboards.
As one of the most loved cured meats in the US, we eat it a lot, so it’s natural to ask – is pepperoni healthy?
- Pepperoni offers proteins and vitamins but is high in salt, sugar, and fats, making it unsuitable for certain health conditions.
- It contains 6 grams of protein per ounce but is 84% fat, potentially raising bad cholesterol.
- For keto dieters, choose high-quality pepperoni without harmful additives.
- Typically, pepperoni is gluten-free and dairy-free, but check for cross-contamination.
- Turkey pepperoni is a healthier alternative due to lower fat, but watch its higher sodium content.
Read on to learn more.
Is Pepperoni Bad for You?
Although pepperoni provides whole proteins, minerals, and B vitamins, any nutritional advantages must be evaluated against the fat and salt load.
Pepperoni is a type of processed meat. It’s high in salt, sugar, artificial flavors, additives, saturated fat, and calories.
In addition, fermentation or curing needs to take place to cure pepperoni. This makes it safe to eat because pepperoni isn’t cooked, but also, it contributes to the unique taste of pepperoni.
The meat has a tangy flavor and a chewy texture due to this processing, but the product might be unhealthy due to some of the chemicals used.
Pepperoni isn’t a healthy choice if you have high blood pressure or heart disease or if you’re merely managing your weight.
Otherwise, so long as you don’t go over your daily calorie, fat, and salt restrictions, eating pepperoni on occasion won’t harm you in the long run.
Does Pepperoni Have Protein?
Yes, pepperoni is an excellent source of protein. A slice has around 1.1 grams of protein.
However, if we want to look into the amount of protein in one serving, it gets a little bit tricky.
For instance, one serving is 1 ounce, or about 14 slices, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Therefore, pepperoni slices provide 6 grams of protein per ounce.
But because the amount an average person might eat at one time can vary greatly, determining the “serving” depends on the individual.
Is Pepperoni Fattening?
Yes, pepperoni is high in fat and calories. According to the USDA, pepperoni has 141 calories per 1-ounce piece, weighing 28 grams.
The amount of pepperoni in 28 grams is equivalent to the amount of pepperoni found on five thin pizza slices.
Fat accounts for 84 percent of total calories in pepperoni. This is equal to 13 grams, or 20% of the daily value (DV).
One of the few possible pepperoni health advantages is that fat helps with vitamin absorption and provides energy for your body to perform various functions.
On the other hand, Dietary Guidelines propose that total fat consumption be limited to 20% to 35% of daily calories.
Meanwhile, 5 grams of the total fat in an ounce of pepperoni is bad saturated fat, accounting for 25% of your daily value.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada advises that pepperoni includes unhealthy fats, which can raise LDL or bad cholesterol and promote the accumulation of fatty deposits in your vascular system.
According to Dietary Guidelines, you should consume less than 10% saturated fat per day and avoid trans-fat wherever feasible.
Something to keep in mind – if you’re buying pepperoni for pizza and like when it curls up to make crispy edges, then you’ll want to make the less healthy choice and pick a fattier pepperoni.
Is Pepperoni Good for a Keto Diet?
Keto is a diet and lifestyle that entails eating a lot of healthy fats and relatively few carbohydrates. This means you can consume pepperoni sticks on a keto diet.
But there’s a catch: while cured meats like pepperoni and other sausage, hot dogs, and bacon are typically allowed on keto diets, you must be selective.
For example, there are a lot of additives in low-quality pepperoni. This can lead you to take in high amounts of sodium, sugar, saturated fat, calories, chemical preservatives, and hidden carbohydrates from flavorings.
It would be best to look for pepperoni sticks created with high-quality protein without added MSG, nitrates, or nitrites.
Instead of sugar and artificial flavors, it should be flavored with natural spices like garlic and paprika.
Does Pepperoni Have Gluten?
Generally, pepperoni is gluten-free.
However, because many establishments that make pepperoni also make other meats that may include gluten-containing spices, there is always the risk of gluten cross-contamination in pepperoni.
As a result, it’s beneficial to take a few moments to read the ingredient list.
Is Pepperoni Dairy Free?
Pepperoni doesn’t include any dairy. Therefore, it is entirely safe for anybody with milk allergies or who suffers from lactose intolerance.
Which Is Healthier, Pepperoni or Salami?
Both are a type of processed meat. The cardiovascular and metabolic systems are harmed by processed meat, just as they are by red meat.
Processed meat consumption has been related to poor cardiovascular health and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Fats, cholesterol, excessive salt, and nitrites are the leading causes of these problems.
Pepperoni has more calories and fat, but it also has more vitamins A, E, and D. Salami has a higher protein content and most B vitamins and minerals.
So, it can be said that both are equally healthy when eaten in moderation.
For more on the differences and similarities between pepperoni and salami, click here.
Is Turkey Pepperoni Healthy?
Compared to regular pepperoni, turkey pepperoni is healthier.
Turkey pepperoni has just 3.5 grams of fat per 1-ounce portion, including 1.1 grams of saturated fat. However, Turkey pepperoni has higher sodium than regular pepperoni at 557 mg per serving.
So although turkey pepperoni lowers your saturated fat consumption, you should still restrict how much you consume to keep your salt intake low.
Healthy Pepperoni Brands
Here is a list of healthy pepperoni brands.
- Uncured Pork & Beef Pepperoni APPLEGATE
- Gallo Salame Uncured Pepperoni (click here to learn more about uncured pepperoni)
- Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
The question of whether pepperoni is healthy has no simple answer. Even though it’s a type of processed meat high in salt and saturated fats, it is unlikely to cause harm when eaten in moderation.
If you want to implement pepperoni in your keto or any other type of diet, try to look for healthier pepperoni brands. Reading the ingredients and nutrients list will help you to figure this out.
A good start can be choosing turkey pepperoni instead of regular pepperoni.