Salami vs Pepperoni – Differences & Health Dangers


It is a dried sausage that can be made of beef, pork, horse, veal, poultry, donkey, or game.

Preservatives (used to extend shelf life and for color) in certain amounts are commonly used, depending on the food laws in the country.

Seasoning includes mace, salt, garlic, fennel, black pepper, cinnamon, and wine.

It is the smaller relative of ”salamino,” with a similar filling (the fat content may be ground a bit finer) but only one inch thick.

Even the producers are not entirely sure when the first salami, as we know it today, was produced.

However, in Roman times, it belonged to a group of food named ”salsum,” translating as “salted.” Historically, it was popular among central and southern European peasants since it stores at room temperature for more than a month once cut.


  • Wild Boar Lean – it has a deep-red color and it is commonly produced with a mix of pork belly (for extra fat) and wild boar;
  • Genoa Salami – this product is extremely popular in the United States. It refers to a type of salami in which the fat and meat are combined with tiny flecks of fat visible in the red background;
  • Ventricina – originated from the Abruzzo, a region in Southern Italy, it is made from ground pork which is slightly spicy from peperoncini (dried hot peppers) and occasionally has orange peel and fennel seeds;
  • Fennel, also known as finocchiona in Italian, hails from Tuscany and is produced with fennel liqueur, fennel seed, or both;
  • Prosciutto, meaning “ham” in Italian, is produced only from the hind legs of pigs and is aged during a dry-curing process;
  • Felino comes from a town close to Parma which the Etruscans called “Felsina.” Felino is aged in the same manner as prosciutto.


It is a type of salami that is made from cured beef and pork and seasoned with paprika. Nitrate is also added, giving the pepperoni its color.

It is also a popular pizza topping in American-style pizzerias as well as it is used to make some varieties of sub sandwiches.

The first mention in print was from 1919, during a period when Italian butcher pizzerias and shops started to flourish in New York City.

The word literally translates to “big peppers,” that are frequently referred to as bell peppers in the US.

Salami vs Pepperoni – Are They Healthy?

They are not the healthiest choice you can make. Here are a few reasons:


There is now a large body of evidence that bowel cancer is more frequent among individuals who eat processed and red meat.

For instance, eating 50g of processed meat per day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, according to 22 experts from 10 countries that reviewed more than 800 studies to reach their conclusions.

Furthermore, a 2005 study conducted at the University of Hawaii concluded that processed meats increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 67%.

Additionally, people who ate about 22g of processed meat per day had a higher risk of death from all causes than people who consumed the least (under 2g per day), according to the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. In 2009, it released results of a study that followed 550,000 individuals over a decade.

Also, eating 30 grams of processed meat per day (that is the equivalent of one hot dog) was strongly associated with a 15 to 38% increase in stomach cancer risk, as per a Swedish study which looked at data collected from more than 4,700 people from 15 studies issued from 1966 to 2006.

Scientists are still trying to find exactly how processed and red meat cause cells to become cancerous, and the main culprits seem to be some chemicals found in the meat itself.

Also, heme iron, the type of iron found in animal products, may produce compounds that can damage cells, leading to cancer. More importantly, a few carcinogens form when meat is cooked.


Processed meats are high in saturated fat, a type of fat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Additionally, processed meats contain trans fats, that are even more dangerous than saturated fats, and lower HDL cholesterol and raise LDL cholesterol levels.

Furthermore, these fats can lead to weight gain, another important risk factor for developing hypertension, which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.


In addition to its taste benefits, the human body needs the sodium found in table salt to keep the nerves and muscles functioning at their best and control the blood pressure.

Moreover, potassium and sodium help regulate the acid/base balance and fluids of the human body.

However, too much sodium in the regular diet can elevate your blood pressure.

More importantly, even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess sodium in the diet can adversely affect the heart, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys, according to a 2015 review of studies issued in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Just a serving of salami contains approximately 1890mg of sodium which is more than the ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day for adults.


Sulfites are used as a food preservative to prevent spoilage since it works as an antimicrobial agent, preventing the growth of mold, bacteria, and fungus.

Sulfur dioxide also bleaches bad parts of meat, hiding it from view and destroying vitamins. Regular exposure to sulfites in the diet has been reported to a variety of adverse effects, ranging from urticaria, dermatitis, hypotension, flushing, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, to asthmatic reactions.


All foods from animal sources (such as dairy products, meats, and eggs) contain cholesterol, whereas fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or legumes, have none.

The liver naturally produces all the cholesterol the body needs, therefore, we never need cholesterol in food. Individuals who intake too much cholesterol and fat in their regular diet (more than 200 mg/day) may develop high LDL and total cholesterol that leads to arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

These people can successfully lower their total and LDL cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes alone and avoid prescription medicines (which come with many side effects on their on).

Nitrates & Nitrites

Sodium nitrite and potassium nitrate are used as food preservatives in processed meats and are well-known to trigger migraines in some people.

Also, sodium nitrite may have long-term side effects, including an increased risk of developing some types of cancer. Pregnant women should avoid sodium nitrite since it can result in oxygen deprivation of the fetus.


Foods that are higher in saturated fat, calories, cholesterol, food preservatives, and sodium tend to increase blood pressure and weight, which in turn, may lead to the development of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, cancer, and heart disease.

Hence, these types of foods must be avoided as well as it is recommended to eat a plant-based diet with plenty of fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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