Is Corned Beef a Healthy Choice? — Benefits and Risks of Corned Beef

An image representing corned beef

A rough slice of beef, that is cured in rock salt to preserve it well and just adding spices and herbs has given its name, corned beef. The name itself tells that it is cured with rock salt to preserve well. The traditional way of preserving any meat is this curing process, which helps in preserving the meat well for extended use. 

In the very old days, corned beef was made by curing it in a salt solution and adding spices such as coriander, mustard, bay leaves, and whole cloves. But now, instead of directly curing with the salt grains, salt brine is being used. It is mostly paired with cabbages and is a widely known choice for a breakfast sandwich, stew, or any other meal that is of your favorite.

You might be thinking of the benefits of corned beef. Yes, there are benefits as it is a great source of protein, calories, and several essential vitamins and minerals, hence it promotes some health benefits. But the concern is that it is a processed, red meat that, if consumed excessively, will impact negatively on your body. 

What is It Made Out of? 

Typically, it is made of beef, salt, sugar, spices, herbs, garlic, allspice, and certain other additives that help preserve the flavor and color of the meat. The spices are added to give it a traditional touch. Also, the ingredients may vary by brand and type, also with the recipes. 

While you go through the ingredients that are used in making your favorite piece of red meat, it is of that much priority to understand the allergens present in it. The common allergens present may are:

Gluten: Wheat-based additives can cause digestive discomfort in people who have gluten sensitivity.

Soy: Soy is a common ingredient that can be seen in almost all processed meats. These are used as additives too. 

Spices: If you are allergic to any of the spices naturally, then you must be careful about it.

Image representing a plate full of corned beef with cabbage

Nutritional Values of Corned Beef

A 100-gram serving size of corned beef consists of: 

Calories: Approximately 220 Cal

Fat: Around 6 g

Cholesterol: 82 mg

Sodium: 820 mg

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Protein: 18 gm

Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients: Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, Iron

Is it Healthy? — Benefits and Risks of Corned Beef

The answer might not be that easy, because it is not known for its health benefits, since it is processed meat, and contains sodium in a comparatively high amount as it is cured in a salt solution. 

Apart from these concerns, corned beef provides limited benefits that help in the growth and well-being of the body. It is a good source of protein, which helps in the growth of tissues and muscle building. It also provides B12 vitamins to keep the blood cells healthy.

Selenium is essential for the functioning of the thyroid hormones, supporting thyroid health and immune function. Certain other nutrients help in the proper body functioning also are there in corned beef, but it is always recommended to have a moderate portion of meat combined with your balanced diet. 

What makes it a ‘not so good’ choice is the sodium content, which is highly risky for those who are suffering from heart diseases. The curing process contains an excess amount of salt, resulting in the presence of a high amount of sodium. An excess amount of sodium intake leads to heart disease and it may increase blood pressure. 

Processed meats are not at all recommended to have daily, as they are always related to the risk of cancer and heart problems. Moreover, coloring agents were added to get pink-colored meat, which becomes nitrate and nitrite while cooking, which usually is warned to cause harmful effects to the body. 

It is always suggested to opt for better-quality meat when buying processed meat or corned beef to enjoy your favorite meal with no health concerns. To consume in an excess amount or moderate amount has always been your choice, but if you are highly concerned about your dietary preferences and goals, it is better to choose a diet good in vegetables, fruits, grains, etc. 

Image representing healthy corned beef with veggies

Effects on Pregnancy

The main components to be noted while having corned beef during your pregnancy are, the amount of sodium and iron intake. Sodium is high in corned beef, and it is essential also for the body’s development, but an excess amount is not at all suitable for a to-be mother and her unborn baby. You may risk high blood pressure and other body weaknesses. 

Effects on Lactating Women

To satisfy the dietary needs of a lactating mother, protein, iron, and several other vitamins should be included in the diet. Corned beef is a good source of protein. If consumed in a limited quantity, it can satisfy the protein requirements of a lactating mother. 

In addition, iron deficiency can also be covered through this, but it is not always suggested. Incorporating corned beef with your daily diet may affect your heart health and blood pressure level due to high sodium intake. 

Effects on Diabetics

The protein content in corned meat is helpful as it controls the overall food intake by providing a feeling of satisfaction just after one meal. It helps to maintain the blood sugar level too. Besides, the fat content may increase the chances of heart disease.

Presence of Nitrate

Have you ever noticed why there is a pinkish color in processed meat that distracts you from buying anything else from the supermarket? It is nitrate, the chemical component that gives a pinkish, fresh-cut feel to your favorite slice of beef or meat. Nitrates are added to give that color to processed meat as preservatives. 

This chemical presence is highly dangerous too. Nitrates are responsible for several health issues, such as affecting the functioning of the thyroid glands, and changes in body sugar levels which may cause diabetes. 

How It Helps in Weight Loss

Losing weight with corned beef is something that is not going to happen! Yes, you read it right. A dish that does not even provide many health benefits mustn’t be your only meal to lose weight. Let’s talk about the components that are going to help you lose weight if included in your planned diet. 

Protein: Corned beef, a source of protein, can make you feel satisfied after one meal and stop you from having meals in between. 

Calories: As the protein content helps in reducing overall food intake, you can add corned beef to your balanced diet to control the calorie content. 

Other than these components, you must be watchful about your consumption of processed meat to reach your weight loss goals. The best you do for yourself may be to eat the right amount of food, keep a balanced diet, and consider your health preferences. 

Even those people who are highly concerned about their weight management do meal planning for a day, which includes vegetables, fruits, proteins, vitamins, and all those that help in balancing weight.

Corned beef platter

Gut Health

A nutrient rich diet can promote healthy gut lining and growth of bacteria present in a healthy gut. The protein content in corned beef may help achieve the sufficient amount of protein for a better gut performance. But if you focus only on protein intake, the high sodium content may cause adverse effects on the gut microbiome. Furthermore, corned beef is low in dietary fiber, which is essential for gut bacteria. 

Healthy heart

Corned beef can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol levels in the blood due to the saturated fat content in it, which is threatening to heart health.

Kidney Health

High levels of mineral and protein intake can be harmful to individuals with kidney disease, because, kidney may not be able to balance the level of minerals in blood leading to an imbalance. ANd it can have a negative impact on your kidney health. 


Corned beef is not something that you can include in your daily diet especially when you are following a balanced diet. Although it provides some essential nutrients and vitamins for the body, it is related to several health risks. 

It is a processed meat, with all the potential health risks included in it if not consumed in moderation. It is always recommended to enjoy it at times. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can I store corned beef?

Corned beef can be freezed up to 1 month. Uncooked corned beef may be stored for 6 to 7 days in a refrigerator. Cooked beef can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. 

Is it healthy to eat corned beef everyday?

Since the sodium and saturated fat content in corned beef is relatively high, it is not advised to eat it everyday. But you can have it in limited quantities with other nutrient rich meals to get benefited. 

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