There are some foods that, no matter how delicious they are, must be avoided at all costs if you have high cholesterol, such as butter, whole milk, pâté, or meat. But what about Iberian ham? Is ham good for cholesterol?
It's understandable that you wouldn't want to give up one of the most delicious foods in our gastronomy. So, let us put your mind at ease: it is possible to eat ham if you have high cholesterol. However, there are some points you should know beforehand. We'll explain them to you at Enrique Tomás!
Does Ham Contain Cholesterol?
The relationship between Iberian ham and cholesterol is a bit complicated. If you have excessively high cholesterol, you'll need to follow a strict diet and give up ham. However, if you have high but controlled cholesterol levels, you can include it in your diet. It's worth noting that ham is good for cholesterol when consumed in moderation, which is around 40 grams per day.
According to a study conducted by the Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital and the Huelva-Costa Health District, Iberian acorn-fed ham is good for cardiovascular health, as it increases the concentration of the so-called "good" cholesterol or HDL, which helps maintain healthy arteries. Furthermore, the consumption of this product, so characteristic of our region, significantly reduces "bad" cholesterol or LDL and does not lead to weight gain.
Doctors Emilio Márquez Contreras and Antonio León Justel from the Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital in Huelva conducted this study, tracking 100 healthy individuals aged between 25 and 55. These individuals included 40 grams of 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham, also known as "pata negra" ham, in their regular breakfast during the study period.
The final conclusions showed that these subjects experienced an increase in the plasma concentration of "good" cholesterol, a reduction in "bad" cholesterol, and they did not gain weight. It's all advantages!
In this regard, it's worth mentioning that in 2015, the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid published a similar study, from which it could be deduced that moderate consumption of Iberian acorn-fed ham can be beneficial for health and also helps maintain a healthy weight.
It's important to note that these benefits apply to Iberian acorn-fed ham, not Serrano ham, for a simple reason: during the "montanera" season, when pigs feed on acorns and other natural foods and are in constant motion, they have less fat and more muscle. Therefore, the meat obtained from them is healthier. From now on, you can incorporate acorn-fed Iberian ham into your diet without guilt!
So, what's good for cholesterol? About 40 grams of Iberian ham a day!
How to Enjoy Iberian Ham in a Healthy Way
Now that it's clear that you can eat ham in moderation even if you have high cholesterol, let's explain how to enjoy it. There's no better way than with some bread and extra virgin olive oil, another product that represents our gastronomy beyond our borders.
As the saying goes, "there's no longer day than a day without bread," but if you have elevated cholesterol levels, it's advisable to opt for whole-grain or seeded bread, which, thanks to its fiber content, helps you manage your cholesterol and weight.
Regarding "picos sevillanos," it's important to note that there are also whole-grain versions available in the market. Since this option is available, it's worth choosing it. They taste just as good, and it's a healthy choice!
In conclusion, Is ham good for cholesterol? Everything in life must be consumed in moderation, which means that even though you can eat ham, you shouldn't overindulge in it.
As we've explained, doctors and experts suggest that eating between 40 and 50 grams of ham per day is good for your health. However, if you overindulge in this product and make it a habit to devour a package of sliced Iberian ham every day, you'll be harming your health.
Follow the recommendations and remember: What's good and brief is twice as good!