Is Spam Unhealthy For You? [See 4 Reasons Why]

Yes, spam is unhealthy for you. It is very high in fat, sodium, and calories and low in essential nutrients, such as protein, minerals, and vitamins. Additionally, it is highly processed, and it contains preservatives like sodium nitrite that may have several adverse on your health.

Spam has been a staple meal in American households for decades, but you must focus on the health effects of this meal. The meat comes in a can and is convenient, but may not be the best for your health.

Spam is heavily processed meat. The addition of chemicals is generally necessary for processing, and this causes health hazards. Certain illnesses that are linked to heavily processed meat include hypertension, heart ailments, and stomach or bowel cancer.

In this article, I will discuss spam, its nutritional value, the reason why spam is unhealthy, and alternatives that are better for you.

What is spam?

Spam is a canned cooked meat product that comprises six ingredients, pork, potato starch, salt, sodium nitrite, sugar, and water. The product originally gained attraction during World War II as a cheap and convenient food to feed soldiers overseas.

Today, Spam is sold around the world and has become a household dish favored for its versatility, easy preparation, long shelf life, and convenience.

Spam is short for spiced ham.  The name was suggested in a naming contest by Ken Daigneau, a Hormel VP’s brother. Daigneau won the naming contest and $100.

SEE: How To Fry Spam

Nutritional information on spam

Based on USDA data, here are the nutritional values for spam per 3.5 ounces (or 100-gram) serving.

  • Calories: 315
  • Fat: 26.6g
  • Saturated fat: 9.99g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 13.5g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.02g
  • Omega-3: 0.08g
  • Omega-6: 1.89g
  • Cholesterol: 71mg
  • Sodium: 1410mg
  • Carbohydrate: 4.6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 13.4g

Spam is also a moderate source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B6, Choline, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Folate, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Potassium, Iron, Copper, and Magnesium.

Why do people consume spam a lot?

Spam preparation is one of the most convenient. It requires less effort and time to prepare it. In addition to the low costs, it makes spam popular and is one of the main reasons why it is highly sought after,

This is precisely why there is a call for individuals to avoid it. Its convenience makes it popular among users for routine and repeats preparation.

Individuals who consume spam as a matter of routine and those who take multiple servings of spam can put themselves at risk of health complications over some time.

Is spam unhealthy for you?

Yes, it is. Should you decide to set about consuming a whole can, you’ll be eating nearly 100 grams of fat, more than 1,000 calories, 240 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 4,696 milligrams of sodium, nearly double the USDA’s recommended daily intake. 

Reasons why spam is unhealthy for you

There are various side effects to eating spam, some of these reasons include;

1. Highly processed meat is unhealthy

Processed meat is any type of meat that has been cured, smoked, canned, or dried to increase its shelf life and enhance its taste and texture.

Spam is a type of highly processed meat, alongside hot dogs, bacon, salami, beef jerky, and corned beef. Eating processed meats has long been associated with a long list of adverse side effects.

Processed meat has been associated with a higher risk of stomach and colorectal cancer. It has also been tied to a higher risk of other conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, heart ailments, stomach/bowel cancer, and high blood pressure.

SEE: Is it Okay to Wash Your Processed Beef?

2. Sodium nitrites can cause food poisoning

Spam is preserved with sodium nitrite, a food additive that is used to prevent the growth of bacteria, it also improves the flavor and appearance of the product. This chemical is also responsible for possible food poisoning.

When spam is exposed to high heat or in the presence of amino acids, the nitrites will be converted into nitrosamine, which is a dangerous compound that is associated with several negative side effects.

3. Can lead to stomach cancer

Spam is very high in sodium, packing nearly one-third of the recommended daily amount into a single serving.  This may be an issue for people with salt sensitivity and those with high blood pressure.

High sodium intake may also be linked to a higher risk of stomach cancer, higher blood pressure, and increased cardiovascular risk.

4. High in Fat

Spam is very high in fat, with about 27g in a 100-gram serving. Fat is significantly higher in calories than protein or carbs, with each gram of fat containing over nine calories.

Compared to other sources of protein like meat, poultry, fish, or legumes, Spam is significantly higher in fat and calories and offers little in terms of nutrition.

To further clarify, spam contains 7.5 times the amount of fat and nearly twice as many calories as chicken, not to mention less than half the amount of protein.

Frequently indulging in high-fat foods like spam without making adjustments to other parts of your diet could potentially increase your overall calorie intake and contribute to weight gain in the long run.

SEE: Is Green Tea Good for Weight Loss?

What are the healthier alternatives to spam?

1. Grass-fed beef Jerky

If you are set on eating a ready-to-go meat product, I recommend considering grass-fed jerky without added nitrates. Grass-fed meat products are more nutritionally dense and healthier than conventionally raised animal products.

Added nitrates, which are preservatives, are thought to be one of the reasons why processed meat is associated with increased cancer risk, but the research on this is still early.

Consumers with blood pressure issues may want to go for a jerky that is lower in sodium, but specific guideline diets are best discussed with your doctor.

2. Canned sardines

Sardines are another prepared option that is convenient and a lot healthier than spam in our opinion. Whole fish products are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids (much more so than meat).

Omega-3s are associated with reduced inflammation and reduced cholesterol, which are two issues many Americans battle with.

I recommend sardines in water rather than in oil or salt. Another health benefit of sardines is they are quite high in calcium due to the bones of the fish.


Can you eat spam every day?

No, you can. Daily intake of spam can cause physical harm to your body.

What is spam made of?

Spam is made from ground beef, a starch thickener, and sodium tripolyphosphate. It also usually has some other added flavoring to make it taste better.

Is Spam good for weight loss?

No, it Is not. Spam has a high amount of fats and calories, this will do your waistline no good.

Conclusion: Is spam unhealthy for you?

Yes, it is. Though Spam is convenient, easy to use, and has a long shelf-life, it’s also very high in fat, calories, and sodium and low in important nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Additionally, it’s highly processed and contains preservatives like sodium nitrite that may cause several adverse health effects.

Therefore, it’s best to minimize your intake of Spam. Instead, opt for healthier protein foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and legumes as part of a nutritious and balanced diet.

If you enjoyed this article, you should also see if toast is healthy for you.

Thank you for reading this article.