3

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What do you think about Spam?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 26, 2012 at 9:53 PM

So I recently got back from a trip to Hawaii where Spam is eaten like crazy. I had never tried Spam before, but now I find myself craving it. Looking at the nutrition information, it seems to check out alright, at least not much worse than most processed meats: 1 serving, 13 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 27 g fat. It's very high in salt (1369 mg), but I'm not too worried about salt. I figure if I crave a salty food it means my body wants the salt. Also, according to Wikipedia, "Spam provides the following vitamins and minerals: 0% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C , 1% calcium, 5% iron, 3% magnesium, 9% potassium, 12% zinc, and 5% copper."

What do you think? I know most (including myself) are put off by Spam's reputation as a poor tasting meat substitute, but now that I've been to Hawaii, I've seen Spam used in a truly culinary fashion and it doesn't turn me off any more than canned fish (that is to say, I would like to eat it regularly).

The labeled ingredients in Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative.

464e1c66609d402615ae2b3cf72d53fb

(1472)

on July 29, 2012
at 11:56 PM

Yelp, nothing like a good dose of scrambled eggs and spam. Damn, I wish we had a can. I know what would be for breakfast tomorrow.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:06 PM

Ahh yes, N-nitrosoamines... I'm very well aware these are cancer causing as isolated compounds. Curious if there's any support that the small concentration of N-nitrosoamines formed in nitrite-containing foods actually do have the same effect as the isolated chemical. Dose and matrix do generally make a difference.

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:15 AM

But it's just the nitrites you need to watch out for.

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:14 AM

Thanks for the info.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:03 AM

Do you send a lot of emails to yourself?

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:42 PM

If ascorbic acid is added then nitroaminos don't form. All cured meats in the UK have to have it added for this very reason.

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:13 PM

Good point about the nitrites. I do try to limit my intake of processed meats as a result, but I find the convenience of them to be too appealing for me. It's one of those things I'll continue to limit over time, so I suspect whatever Spam I buy will hang out in the cupboard and be used only when I'm out of other food or for an occasional treat. I did a little research after reading your answer and found this article: http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/spam-food1.htm, which I found very informative.

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9 Answers

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2
1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on July 26, 2012
at 10:13 PM

Nitrites in meat are bad news. When cooked, they combine with the aminos in the meat and form carcinogenic compounds (N-nitrosos). Vegetables also have nitrites, but the other vitamins inhibit N-nitroso formation.

I'd also question the quality of the meat???Spam has to have gotten it's reputation somewhere???and "ham meat" sounds suspicious to me.

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:13 PM

Good point about the nitrites. I do try to limit my intake of processed meats as a result, but I find the convenience of them to be too appealing for me. It's one of those things I'll continue to limit over time, so I suspect whatever Spam I buy will hang out in the cupboard and be used only when I'm out of other food or for an occasional treat. I did a little research after reading your answer and found this article: http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/spam-food1.htm, which I found very informative.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:06 PM

Ahh yes, N-nitrosoamines... I'm very well aware these are cancer causing as isolated compounds. Curious if there's any support that the small concentration of N-nitrosoamines formed in nitrite-containing foods actually do have the same effect as the isolated chemical. Dose and matrix do generally make a difference.

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on July 26, 2012
at 11:42 PM

If ascorbic acid is added then nitroaminos don't form. All cured meats in the UK have to have it added for this very reason.

4
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:47 AM

If it means anything to ya, the Weston A Price Foundation lists Spam in their shopping guide. Mind you, not as an ideal or optimal choice, but as a source of fat and protein when other choices might be even worse. (Soy, or something else.)

Copied & pasted from this link - but you have to scroll down:

(From a letter to the editor in their quarterly journal)

Spamming Spam

I am writing to express my concern about your choice of Spam as a "good" choice in your Shopping Guide. Spam is packed by Hormel which engages in factory farming that raises hogs in intolerable conditions and causes the destruction of the environment. Please review this choice and let people know it was an oversight. David Schmidt Menomonie, WI

Editor's Response: We are well aware of the deplorable conditions of the hogs that provide us with most of our pork products, as well as chickens and dairy cows that provide our eggs and dairy products. However, many of our members have access only to conventional supermarkets and have no choice but to purchase animal products raised in this way. Many people enjoy fatty pork products and Spam was the only one we found that did not contain MSG. It is also widely enjoyed by Asians and in fact contributed to a healthy increase in fat levels in Asian diets after the World War II. If we eliminated Spam from the Shopping Guide because it comes from pigs in confinement, then to be consistent we would also have to eliminate many of the other compromise recommendations that people buy in supermarkets such as eggs, butter and cheese. The Shopping Guide was designed to meet people where they are at the moment. At the same time, through our system of local chapters, we are trying to make products from humanely raised animals more available. What we would like to see is the development of pork, pat?? and sausage products produced locally from healthy animals. When these products are widely available, we will remove Spam from the Shopping Guide.

From me again: In other words, should Spam be your go-to meat source? Nooo. Should it be a staple of your diet? Noooo. But once in a while? Meh. It's not gonna kill ya.

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:14 AM

Thanks for the info.

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 26, 2012
at 10:18 PM

I love me some Spam, but it's definitely not paleo. But who says everything you eat must be paleo? Enjoy it occasionally if you're in a Spam-y mood.

3
B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on July 26, 2012
at 10:17 PM

Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Lovely Spam! Lovely Spam!

3
Medium avatar

(3213)

on July 26, 2012
at 10:12 PM

The only reason i wouldn't add Spam to my diet, is the fact that it's canned, i avoid canned foods because of its BPA content, this been said, i like the way it tastes and it's versatility, i would keep it in my pantry for ease of use

1
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on July 29, 2012
at 10:39 PM

Every once in a while, scrambled eggs with Spam and cheddar cheese is a must. Takes me back to family camp outs when I was a kid.

464e1c66609d402615ae2b3cf72d53fb

(1472)

on July 29, 2012
at 11:56 PM

Yelp, nothing like a good dose of scrambled eggs and spam. Damn, I wish we had a can. I know what would be for breakfast tomorrow.

1
A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on July 26, 2012
at 11:32 PM

I used to be put off mainly by the extreme saltiness, but a diet with no processed foods can easily wind up too low in sodium, so I wouldn't be too worried about this now. Thanks for reminding me about Spam. I think I'll pick up a can to experiment with! (I know I'm supposed to worry about nitrites, but with all the other things that are giving me cancer without my even noticing, like air pollution and various bad habits, this one is the least of my concerns.)

0
9f489b03123daff584f89bf43dfc963a

on July 29, 2013
at 08:42 PM

I've been fighting the craving for Spam for months and I finally caved in this morning. Half the can is already gone and I plan on eating the rest of it tomorrow. I wouldn't trade it for a steak. The only thing I feel a bit guilty over is not reading the nutritional info until after I ate it. Didn't want to ruin my mood. :D

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:36 AM

Spam? It's the plague of the Interwebs. Fills up my inbox in about 5 minutes.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:03 AM

Do you send a lot of emails to yourself?

Cfe88f41d0f90c6355a58eddbe78c9f8

(868)

on July 27, 2012
at 06:15 AM

But it's just the nitrites you need to watch out for.

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