Thanks to the constant improvement of their nutritional characteristics, Italian salami and cold cuts can be included in a varied and balanced diet, for example for children and teen-agers, to meet their high needs of energy and nutritional elements (noble proteins, mineral salts, and vitamins). On the other hand, the elderly people, by means of a targeted selection concerning salami and cold cuts, can consume food with a controlled caloric intake that, however, guarantee important nutritional elements and can support the plastic function – offered in particular by proteins, calcium, and iron - needed to build, replace, and repair tissues and bodily structures.
Even such a fast-growing category as sportspeople can consider Italian salami and cold cuts as a food that helps to easily and naturally recover the nutritional elements lost with physical activity. Luca Piretta, doctor specialised in Science of Human Nutrition at Biomedical Campus University in Rome, explains: ‘As for salami and cold cuts, it should be noted that, in the last thirty years, the nutritional composition of these products has changed considerably in terms of safety and quality. This happens thanks to the genetic selection of pigs and their targeted and selected feeding. In addition, the additives have been considerably reduced over the years, as it emerges from the joint research by CREA and SSICA, promoted by ISIT. The reduction of nitrate content between 1993 and 2011 was 87% in cooked ham (from 110 ppm to 14 ppm), 73% for PGI Mortadella Bologna (from 40 ppm to 11 ppm), 90% for ‘Coppa’, and 95% for PGI Modena ‘Zampone’ (from 80 ppm to 4 ppm). In addition, the content in fats has dropped dramatically, and the presence of saturated fat has been partially replaced by unsaturated fats, optimising the overall compositional quality. Finally, the amount of salt in salami and cold cuts decreased to half in some products, such as bacon. The data that are now available as for the six new PDO salami and cold cuts allow having an even more complete framework for this sector, which confirms both compositional improvement and positive contribution in nutritional terms. If a vegetarian diet can be considered good, a Mediterranean diet, with the right amount of salami and cold cuts, is excellent, because it is much more complete and balanced. Both unbalanced and ‘extremist’ diets are basically wrong’.