Sliced pepperoni

Is Pepperoni Red Meat? (And is it Bad for You?)

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The name pepperoni itself derives from the Italian word for bell pepper. Its dry-aged look resembles that of the hot salamis of southern Italy. Pepperoni is a popular choice when it comes to pizza toppings. But, if you are on a diet or concerned about your health, you might be: is Pepperoni red meat?

In short, pepperoni is red meat. As a result, a combination of beef and pork gets used. However, pepperoni varieties exist, made with only beef and turkey. Even if pepperoni were made entirely of cow meat, it would still be classified as red meat.

Understanding what makes up red meat is critical despite the delicious taste of one of America’s most popular pizza toppings. So this would help you understand red meat-related products better and inform you in the future of what products to avoid. Similarly, the ingredients are used to create the product. Finally, I will also talk about pepperoni, not red meat.

What Counts As Red Meat?

Meats become classified as either red or white based on the amount of Myoglobin present in the animal’s muscles. This type of protein produces a red color when exposed to oxygen. Now, red meat comes from mammals. The meat appears red when raw. For instance, beef, pork, lamb, and boar are some examples of red meat.

Now, you might be thinking, what’s the healthiest red meat? I am here to answer that very question. To begin with, evidence suggests that red meat and processed meats such as bacon and sausage are harmful to your health. Furthermore, frequent red meat consumption can lead to certain cancers. For instance, increased consumption of red meat might specifically lead to colorectal cancer.

Moreover, if you are going to eat red meat, you should take the leanest cut possible and only eat that amount. I recommend leaner cuts like pork loin, tenderloin, and center-cut chops if you want to eat pork. 

I would recommend the same when it comes to steaks. Lean cuts like flank, round, sirloin, and tenderloin should be selected. In addition, these cuts contain fewer calories and fat but, in return, have more protein than other options. Similarly, the external fat can be removed here. Finally, I recommend meat that is at least 90% lean and less than 10% fat for ground meat.

Which Ingredients Make Pepperoni Red Meat

One of the essential pigments important for meat color is Myoglobin. Oxymyoglobin gets produced here after exposure to oxygen. Hence, giving the meat its red color.

Pepperoni gets prepared with a mix of beef and pork or just beef and pork, as previously stated. It is classified as red meat regardless of its origin as long as it comes from mammals. Hence, most pepperonis that you will find in your local butcher shop are made from red meat.

Pepperoni is also made with pepper-based spices such as crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika powder. These spices give Pepperoni a distinct red color. Similarly, when making Pepperoni, mustard seed, fennel, black pepper, and garlic will get added.

Which Pepperoni Are Not Red Meat

Turkey pepperoni is healthier in comparison to its other alternatives. It has 1.1 grams of saturated fat per serving. Likewise, it contains 3.5 grams of fat per ounce of portion. But, it does have a higher sodium content of 557 mg per serving than that of regular pepperoni.

Pepperoni made from poultry is not classified as red meat. Instead, they get referred to as “white meat.” Mainly, this substitute exists as people may have allergic reactions or faith-related concerns about pepperoni made from pork.

White meat pepperoni has the same process as red meat pepperoni. It contains pepper-based spices as well as fennel, mustard seed, black pepper, and garlic. However, even though white meat pepperoni decreases your saturated fat intake, I would recommend that you keep track of how much gets consumed.

Does Pepperoni Cause Red Meat-Related Health issues?

Without red meat, making pepperoni is almost impossible. Thus, it naturally comes with the health-related issues of red meat. However, there are conflicting claims about red meat’s impact on health. Some specialists believe that it causes harm, while others do not. Regardless, the health effects of red meat have been extensively researched.

Heart Disease

Many observational studies have shown that red meat consumption increases the risk of dying from heart disease. When a study consisted of 134,297 people consuming large amounts of processed meat, the risk of heart diseases and death increased significantly. Moreover, one of the reasons for this is the high salt levels.

Furthermore, significant amounts of sodium intake can result in high blood pressure. The same result was not seen when the amount of unprocessed meat consumed increased. In addition, the current studies seem vague, thus requiring higher quality research.


Similarly, many observational studies have linked red meat to an increased risk of certain cancers, especially breast and colorectal cancer. In addition, you will have an increased chance of cancer if you consume large amounts of red meat. Moreover, the type of meat also matters.

To begin, a higher intake of processed meats like bacon and sausage was thus related to a higher risk of colorectal cancer than consumption of unprocessed meat. Second, a similar association gets shown between heavy intake of processed red meat and breast cancer

Furthermore, carcinogenic compounds would get produced when meat gets cured with nitrites and then smoked. This compound causes cancer. Moreover, cooking at high temperatures may also create cancer-promoting mixes.

Therefore, pepperoni will, unfortunately, have the same health-related issues as red meat. In addition, pepperoni gets classified as unprocessed meat. It contains sodium, sugar, preservatives, saturated fat, and calories. In addition, it goes through fermentation or curing within the casing.

Alternatives To Red Meat Pepperoni

If you are on a diet or health-conscious, you would have to avoid pepperoni made from red meat. Fortunately, I can show you some alternatives to red meat pepperoni. Firstly, I would suggest white meat pepperoni. It is more healthy than its red meat counterpart. But, you should still keep track of how you consume it.

Secondly, if you want a pizza, you could use white meat pepperoni instead of red meat pepperoni as the toppings. Other toppings that could be used are fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, olives, and other veggies that will provide health benefits. Pesto could also be used as a topping instead of processed meat.

Make Healthier White Meat Pepperoni At Home

Previously, I had talked about the health-related issues concerned with red meat pepperoni. Thus, it’s essential to search for alternatives, like white meat pepperoni. Hence, making it is crucial to learn how to make it in the first place. 

First, choose the type of chicken and make sure that the bones are removed. Secondly, add garlic to your boneless chicken. Thirdly, follow it up with paprika powder and salt. After this, you should grind it. Then take a plastic wrap and lay the ground chicken meat flat on the surface. Finally, wrap it up in a cylinder shape and let it freeze overnight.

You can make your own homemade chicken pepperoni at home by following these steps. However, this is not the only way to make white meat pepperoni. Other recipes are available online. Then again, you can buy white Pepperoni. In addition, I should emphasize that you keep track of how much of it you consume.

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