Published: 06/06/2022 - Updated: 06/08/2022
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
Iberian ham is a type of pork ham produced only in Spain. Iberian ham is one of the greatest treasures of Spanish gastronomy and one of the most valued gourmet products both at home and abroad.
What types of Iberian ham are there?
For the ham to be called “Iberian”, the pigs must be at least 50% purebred Iberian.
According to the regulations, the color of the seal indicates the type of ham we are holding in our hands:
- Black: 100% Iberian acorn-fed. Ham that comes from 100% Iberian breed pigs that in their last stage have been fed on acorns and grass in the field, where they eat freely.
- Red: Acorn-fed Iberian. Ham that comes from pigs with 50% or 75% Iberian breed that in their last stage of feeding have eaten acorns and grass in the field.
- Green: Iberian cebo de campo. Ham that comes from pigs with 100%, 75% or 50% Iberian breed fed on farms with mixed feed and that have also eaten forage in the open air, in semi-freedom.
- White: Iberian cebo. Ham that comes from pigs with 100%, 75% or 50% Iberian breed that have been fed on the farm with concentrated feed mixes.
Practical example: Iberian Legacy Ham manufactured by El Pozo.
The ham of this brand carries a white seal, which certifies that it is an Iberian bait ham, with all the guarantees required by the regulations.
In what areas of Spain is Iberian ham produced?
The main production areas for Iberian ham are the following: Extremadura, Jabugo (Huelva), Guijuelo (Salamanca) and Los Pedroches (Córdoba).
What are the nutritional benefits of Iberian ham?
From a nutritional point of view, Iberian ham provides the following benefits:
- Acorn-fed Iberian ham is a low-calorie, vitamin-rich food that contains 50% more protein than fresh meat. 50 grams of acorn-fed Iberian ham only have about 150 calories.
- Iberian ham is antioxidant and has a high vitamin E content. When enjoyed with tomato, its beneficial effects are doubled.
- The quality of the fat in Iberian acorn-fed ham is excellent, like that of olive oil. It has more than 50% oleic acid, which facilitates the production of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body, while reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Its moderate consumption helps to maintain adequate cholesterol levels and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
- It contains B vitamins, especially B1 and B2 (only 100 grams of Iberian ham provide 24% of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin).
- It provides our body with Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and Calcium, but above all Phosphorus. 100 grams of Iberian ham provide 30% of the recommended daily intake of phosphorus.
- Scientific studies on the benefits of eating Iberian ham.
A 2017 study conducted by researchers at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid analyzed the health consequences of eating Iberian ham. The study involved 100 people between the ages of 25 and 55. The conclusions reached by this study were very positive, as they found that eating Iberian ham is good for health, due to the protein and mineral content of this food and its richness in antioxidants. It can be said that eating about 50 g of Iberian ham contributes to good cardiovascular health.
Another scientific study, published in 2018 by Spanish scientists in the journal Food Science and Nutrition, showed that eating Iberian ham has a positive effect on cholesterol levels in the body and that it does not negatively affect blood pressure, nor does it increase weight.
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Buxadé Carbó, C., Daza Anfrada, A. 2001. Porcino Ibérico: aspectos claves. Editorial Mundi-Prensa, 2001.
Forero Vizcaíno, F. J. 2002. Características productivas de dos variedades de cerdo ibérico y contenido vitamínico y mineral de sus productos cárnicos. Diputación de Huelva.
Itfoodtastic, 2022. Is Iberico Ham Healthy? What Is So Special About Iberico Ham?
Márquez Contreras E, Vázquez-Rico I, Baldonedo-Suárez A, Márquez-Rivero S, Jiménez J, Machancoses F, Morano-Báez R, León-Justel A. Effect of moderate and regular consumption of Cinco Jotas acorn-fed 100% Iberian ham on overall cardiovascular risk: A cohort study. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Oct 25;6(8):2553-2559. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.869. PMID: 30510757; PMCID: PMC6261208.
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Saban-Ruiz J, Fabregate-Fuente M, Fabregate-Fuente R, Andres-Castillo A, Palomino-Antolin A, Barrio-Carreras D, Martin-Fernandez L, Altamirano F, Fernandez-Fernandez C, Andres-Lacueva C. Iberian Cured-Ham Consumption Improves Endothelial Function in Healthy Subjects. J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(10):1277-1283. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0848-1. PMID: 29188890.
Ventanas Barroso, J. 2006. El Jamón Ibérico. De la dehesa al paladar. Editorial Mundi-Prensa, 2006.
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