Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Spam Bad For You?

Also Known As: spiced ham in a can



Short answer

Although the FDA considers it safe to consume in moderation, indulging in Spam on a regular basis can be detrimental to your health. Looking out for your future well-being, it's best to skip the spam altogether.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Since baking a traditional ham in the oven can take several hours, many people often turn to a more convenient alternative, such as popping the top off of a can of Spam and enjoying a ham-like product within seconds. Hey, we’re not here to judge your diet habits, only to educate you regarding if something can be potentially detrimental to your health. After all, a product like Spam that has been used to feed our troops during times of war couldn't possibly be bad for you, could it?

Spam is a brand of precooked meat in a can that is processed to contain a variety of ingredients, including chemical preservatives intended to prevent bacteria growth, add color and extend shelf life. Research suggests that consuming large quantities of sodium nitrate, the ingredient used to preserve Spam and many other processed meats such as jerky, bacon, and lunchmeat, might actually increase the risk of developing cancer. According to some nutrition experts, sodium nitrate can even escalate the risk of heart disease, inhibit oxygen transportation throughout the body, promote type 1 diabetes in children, and damage the blood vessels.

Further, a single serving of Spam is laden with saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol - all of which are linked to their own concerning side effects such as increased blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, inflammation, and weight gain. Specifically speaking, high amounts of sodium (790mg in one serving of Spam) has a host of short-term side effects including water retention, stomach cramps, edema, swelling, and dizziness!

To summarize our findings, there are definitely healthier diet alternatives to eating processed meat like Spam. It is best to avoid Spam entirely (children and pregnant women especially).

Possible short-term side effects

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea / vomiting
  • water retention / dehydration
  • swelling
  • edema
  • dizziness
  • stomach cramps

Possible long-term side effects

  • inflammation
  • weight gain
  • increased cholesterol
  • increased blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • diabetes (children)
  • damaged blood vessels
  • decreased oxygen flow in body

Ingredients to be aware of


  • convenient

Healthier alternatives

  • non processed meats
  • natural, grass-fed meats

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Wild Planet Organic Chicken

  • Free-range chicken
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten-free
  • Keto & Paleo friendly
  • No added water
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Healthy Living 35
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Healthy Living 35
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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