Who does not like a slice of Canadian bacon with breakfast? What about a piece of ham for your favorite sandwich? These two are not the same foods and you should know what they each bring to the table.
Stay tuned to find out what differences are between Canadian bacon and ham. You will never make the mistake of confusing them again and will certainly learn how to use them better.
What Is Canadian Bacon?
Also referred to as “back bacon,” this cut of pork comes from the back of the pig. In some cases, it might also include some pork belly fat. It is a much leaner cut of bacon and it is the same area where pork chops come from.
Originally, this type of bacon was English and Irish but became widely known as Canadian bacon due to its introduction in that country. This cut of bacon might also be cured and rarely smoked, and sold fully cooked. It comes in the shape of a thin circle or oval.
It is important to note that the term “Canadian bacon,” is used mostly in the United States. In Canada, this type of bacon is known simply as back bacon. The term bacon is used to refer to the regular one that comes from the pork belly.
Although this food is often for breakfast foods, it resembles ham and can pork chops, and it can be in other dishes. Unlike bacon, this food has a simple taste because it is cured in basic brine. When you bake Canadian bacon, the flavor becomes a bit sweeter.
Because it comes from the back of the pig, Canadian bacon is leaner and contains less fat. For many, this makes it a “fake” type of bacon. However, this food continues to be a staple in Europe and Canada.
Since Canadian bacon has little fat, you should not fry it like regular bacon. You will only dry it out if you allow that to happen. Instead, serve it as is or lightly cook it for some time.
One slice of cooked Canadian bacon (23 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 33.6 calories
- 6.51 g protein
- 0.639 g fat
- 0.414 g carbohydrate
- 0 g fiber
- 0.276 g sugar
- 1.61 mg calcium
- 0.129 mg iron
- 6.21 mg magnesium
- 71.1 mg phosphorus
- 230 mg potassium
- 228 mg sodium
- 11.6 µg selenium
- 15.4 mg cholesterol
Is Canadian Bacon Healthy?
As you can see, one slice of Canadian bacon is not too high in fat or calories. It is an alternative to cured meats, such as regular bacon or ham. However, it can also have certain downsides to note.
Since it is not always cured, Canadian bacon does not contain the amount of sodium and nitrites that cured meats do. It is a healthier alternative to deli meats that are high in sodium and contain excess nitrites.
Although it is considered lean meat, sometimes Canadian bacon can contain more fat. Check the cut before you buy, as that determines whether it is made only from back meat. Either way, the fat content is much lower than regular bacon.
Canadian bacon is also high in protein. If you want to get more protein for your breakfast or snack, this is the right choice. Considering it has 6 grams per slice, it is a healthy way to get more protein in your eggs, sandwiches, and pasta.
While not every type of Canadian bacon is cured, some are. It is important to note that this can increase the amount of sodium you get per slice. Excess sodium can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk for heart disease.
Since this food comes from pork, it contains certain nutrients. It contains selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant. It also has potassium and phosphorus, which play a role in bodily processes, such as heart rhythm and muscle contraction.
Because it is sliced thin and not cured, you should not fry Canadian bacon. Do not attempt to fry this food because it will only make it very dry and burn. For best results, try cooking it on a pan for a couple of minutes.
For the most part, Canadian bacon is a good option when you want an alternative to bacon. It is tasty and lighter in fat. Be careful with added sodium, and watch how much salt you use when cooking.
What Is Ham?
The term ham refers to a cut of pork from the leg preserved through curing. In some cases, ham can be smoked too and contain flavoring. Ham might be sold whole or in slices, depending on the purpose of the meat.
Ham has existed for thousands of years, with some references dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries BC. There is also some evidence that the Chinese might have salted and cured pork to preserve it. Most preservation methods require a lot of salt to help prevent the spoilage of the meat.
Your ham can be preserved in three ways, dry-cured, wet-cured, or smoked. Dry-cured remains a standard preservation method that involves rubbing the meat with salt, adding nitrites, and letting it sit for a few days to dry. The amount of salt used depends on the type of meat and the cut.
Wet curing involves passing the meat through a brine, which might contain other ingredients, such as sugar. The ham remains in the brine for a few days, sometimes up to two weeks. In a large production, the meat is pumped with the curing solution to save time.
Finally, you can also buy smoked ham. This meat is prepared in a smokehouse where the smoke reduces the water content and dries out the meat. There is a distinct wood flavor to smoked ham.
Since ham is processed, it can be very high in sodium and nitrates. Evidence suggests that consuming deli and cured meats in excess can lead to heart disease, obesity, and a higher risk for cancer. Choosing a lower sodium type of ham is a good solution but also reduces the amount you use.
One slice of ham (28 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 32.8 calories
- 5.04 g protein
- 1.23 g fat
- 0.44 g carbohydrate
- 0 g fiber
- 0.44 g sugar
- 2.52 mg calcium
- 0.23 mg iron
- 5.32 mg magnesium
- 75.6 mg phosphorus
- 88.5 mg potassium
- 333 mg sodium
- 9.58 µg selenium
- 14.8 mg cholesterol
Is Ham Healthy?
Ham is a popular type of meat in many households. It is often an easy solution to a quick lunch or breakfast. While it is high in protein, it can also have certain downsides to look out for.
For starters, ham is a complete protein. Since it comes from pork, it contains all nine essential amino acids. You can safely consume ham while knowing the protein is absorbed to its maximum and gives you all the amino acids you need.
Ham also happens to have some selenium and potassium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant mineral that helps prevent illness and cell damage. Potassium is an essential mineral for bodily processes, including heart rhythm, muscle contraction, and fluid balance.
Because it is cured and processed, ham is very high in sodium. One slice will give you a third of the daily value you need for sodium. In many cases, you will consume more than one slice of ham, making your sodium intake excessive.
For those who want to reduce carbohydrate content, eating ham can be a way to fill up in protein without excess calories. You can use ham for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, making it versatile meat. Depending on the type of ham you use, the cut might also have more protein.
Studies show that ham contains a high amount of nitrites added for preservation. These compounds are linked to a higher incidence of cancer. Although they help prevent bacterial overgrowth, they do pose health risks you need to know. (*)
Foods that contain ham are also at higher risk for foodborne illnesses. Common infections from microorganisms like Listeria, Staphylococcus, and Toxoplasma gondii are a risk with ham. That is because this deli meat is in foods that are served cold and require refrigeration. You can also freeze ham for later use.
See more: What goes with ham
What Are The Key Differences Between Canadian Bacon and Ham?
The main difference between these two pork products is the cut where the meat comes from. Canadian bacon comes from the meat in the pig’s back. Ham is often meat from the back legs, such as the thighs.
Because they come from a different part of the pig’s body, the cut of meat is not the same either. Canadian bacon is often thin and cut into round slices. Ham comes in many shapes, sometimes cubes, slices, whole legs, or large blocks.
These two foods are also not prepared the same way. Canadian bacon is often cured in brine or smoked, but the brine is simple and does not contain sugar. Ham is wet or dry-cured or smoked, and the brine almost always contains sugar and other compounds.
Due to the location of the cut, the fat and caloric content of these foods is also different. Canadian bacon tends to be a leaner cut with very little fat and only 33 calories per slice. Ham contains 32 calories per slice but has more fat.
The sodium content of these two is also not the same since they are prepared differently. Canadian bacon contains slightly less sodium, although this depends on the brand and preparation method. Ham is almost always high in sodium, with some flavors and styles adding even more salt.
As you would expect, you do not necessarily use these foods the same way. Canadian bacon is considered a breakfast or brunch food. On the other hand, ham can be a breakfast, lunch, and dinner food and is more versatile.
Finally, the cooking methods for these two might also be different. You can eat Canadian bacon as it is or cook it in a pan for a few minutes. You can prepare ham in many ways, including baked, fried, or smoked.
|Canadian Bacon vs Ham Main Differences||Canadian Bacon||Ham|
|Origin||The United Kingdom and Ireland||Europe and China|
|Preparation Methods||Cured in a basic brine||Dry-cured, wet-cured, or smoked|
|Flavor||Neutral and slightly sweet||It depends on the style of preparation. It can be sweet, savory, smoky, or neutral|
|Uses||Breakfast and brunch||Breakfast, lunch, and dinner|
|Cost per package||$3.99 to 35.99||$4.50 to 19.80|
|Calories per slice||33.6 calories||32.8 calories|
Is Canadian Bacon or Ham Healthier?
For the most part, these two foods are slightly similar in terms of nutrient content. However, Canadian bacon is considered leaner and has less sodium. Ham is often full of sodium and additives, which can be detrimental to your health.
If possible, go with Canadian bacon when you can. Although it is often branded only as a breakfast food, you can prepare it in similar ways to ham. Choosing this meat can lower the sodium content of your meal.
When you have or want to use ham, check the sodium content. Go with a lower sodium option and try the non-smoked choice too. You should also limit how much ham you eat, as it can increase the risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity.
You are now an expert in Canadian bacon and ham! Do not confuse these two ever again, and choose wisely next time. You can even impress your guests when they come over for brunch.
See more: Pancetta vs bacon
*images by rjlerich&Jim_Filim/depositphotos