Are Pepperoni Slices Healthy?

Pepperoni slices are high in cholesterol and salt.
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Pepperoni slices contain complete protein, minerals and B vitamins, but any nutritional benefits must be weighed against their cholesterol and sodium content. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, or you’re simply watching your weight, pepperoni isn't a healthy choice. Otherwise, enjoying pepperoni occasionally won't pose a long-term risk, as long as you don't exceed daily calorie, fat and sodium limits.

Pepperoni Basics

Pepperoni is an Italian sausage made from pork, beef and seasonings, such as cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, one serving equals 1 ounce, or about 14 slices, so nutritional values provided are for that amount. With such a variety of pepperoni sizes available, a 1-ounce serving of the brand you buy may consist of a different number of slices. You also may not typically eat a 1-ounce serving, so the nutrients you get may vary. One ounce of pepperoni slices has 138 calories and 6 grams of protein.

Fat Content

One ounce of pepperoni slices has 12 grams of total fat, which includes 4 grams of saturated fat. Whether that amount is healthy depends on the number of calories you eat daily. You should limit total fat to less than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories, while saturated fat should account for less than 7 percent of your calories. The same portion contains 29 milligrams of cholesterol. Since cholesterol should be limited to 300 milligrams or less daily, you'll get 10 percent of the day's limit from 1 ounce of pepperoni slices. Pepperoni made from turkey only has 4 grams of total fat, but it has 34 milligrams of cholesterol.


Sodium regulates the amount of fluids in your body, including blood volume. You also need it to keep muscles and nerves working properly. To meet these vital roles, you need 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily, yet 90 percent of Americans consume more than the upper tolerable intake of 2,300 milligrams daily. High levels of sodium raise blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One ounce of pepperoni slices has 493 milligrams of sodium, or 33 percent of the daily recommended limit. You won't reduce your sodium intake by eating pepperoni made from turkey, because a similar portion has 520 milligrams of sodium.


Pepperoni provides iron, zinc and B vitamins, but it’s an especially good source of vitamin B-12. One ounce of pepperoni slices supplies 0.48 micrograms, or 20 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B-12. Unlike other B vitamins, vitamin B-12 is stored in your liver, but you still need to consume 2.4 micrograms daily to keep up with your body’s needs. Vitamin B-12 helps keeps nerves working normally and it’s used to make red blood cells and DNA. It also lowers levels of the amino acid homocysteine in your body by converting it to other beneficial substances. That may help your heart, because high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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