Chorizo is a type of smoked pork sausage that originates from the Iberian Peninsula. It’s a staple ingredient in Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. Chorizo gets its distinctive red coloring from paprika and can be seasoned with garlic, oregano, cloves, chili peppers and more. It has a rich, spicy flavor that makes it a popular protein source and addition to dishes like paella, stews, tacos and pizza.
When it comes to nutrition, chorizo is high in protein and fat. The specific macros can vary between different brands and types of chorizo sausage. Below is an overview of the typical macros found in chorizo.
Typical Macros per Ounce of Chorizo
- Calories: 90
- Protein: 6g
- Fat: 8g
- Carbs: 0g
As you can see, chorizo packs a lot of calories, protein and fat into a small serving size. The high protein and fat comes from the pork itself, while the calories are largely from the fat content. Since chorizo is cured and smoked, it contains very little carbohydrates or sugar.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at the protein, fat and calories in chorizo sausage.
Protein in Chorizo
Protein is abundant in chorizo, providing about 6-8 grams per ounce. This protein comes directly from the pork used to make chorizo sausage.
Pork is considered a complete protein source, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. Your body uses these amino acids to build, repair and maintain muscle tissue.
The high protein content is one reason why chorizo can be a beneficial addition to a well-rounded diet, especially for athletes, bodybuilders and anyone looking to build or maintain muscle mass.
Some of the essential amino acids found in chorizo’s pork protein include:
- Leucine – supports muscle growth and recovery
- Lysine – important for immune function and calcium absorption
- Tryptophan – precursor to serotonin, the “happiness hormone”
- Threonine – vital for a healthy digestive and immune system
Consuming just one ounce of chorizo can provide nearly 10% of the recommended daily protein intake for the average adult. It contains all the essential amino acids your body needs from protein foods.
How Does the Protein in Chorizo Compare?
Compared to other high protein foods, chorizo contains:
- More protein per ounce than chicken breast (6g vs 3g)
- Less protein than most cuts of beef and pork (6g vs 7-10g)
- Similar protein as other processed meats like pepperoni (5-7g per ounce)
So while chorizo is high in protein for its serving size, it’s not unusually high compared to other meats. It provides a similar protein punch as other cured sausages.
Tips for Getting More Protein from Chorizo
If you’re looking to up your protein intake, chorizo can help you meet your needs. Here are some tips:
- Add diced chorizo to scrambled eggs or omelets
- Include chorizo in stews, tacos, pizza and pasta dishes
- Top a salad with sliced chorizo
- Go for Portuguese chorizo, which tends to be higher in protein than Spanish varieties
- Look for low-fat or reduced-fat chorizo to up the protein-to-fat ratio
Chorizo’s excellent protein quality and quantity make it a smart choice in a high protein diet when eaten in moderation alongside other whole, minimally processed foods.
Fat in Chorizo
The other primary macronutrient in chorizo is fat. On average, chorizo contains about 8 grams of fat per ounce.
The majority of chorizo’s fat comes from monounsaturated and saturated fat, both from the pork.
Here is the typical fat breakdown per ounce of chorizo:
- Monounsaturated fat: 4g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1g
Monounsaturated fats are considered the heart-healthiest type of fat. They can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Olive oil is a major source of monounsaturated fats.
Saturated fat increases both good HDL and bad LDL cholesterol levels. Moderation is key with saturated fats, as consuming too much may negatively impact heart health. Meat and full-fat dairy provide saturated fats.
Finally, chorizo contains a small amount of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. These promote heart health when balanced with omega-3 fats from foods like fish and walnuts.
How Does the Fat in Chorizo Compare?
The fat content of chorizo is similar to other cured pork sausages. It contains slightly more fat than leaner protein sources:
- More fat than chicken breast which has around 3g per ounce
- Less fat than untrimmed cuts of beef and pork that provide 10-15g of fat per ounce
- Similar fat to hot dogs, bacon and sausage links (7-9g of fat)
As a processed meat, chorizo is higher in fat than fresh cuts of pork. But it’s still lower in fat than some other processed meats like salami, prosciutto and jerky.
Tips for Reducing Fat from Chorizo
If you’re monitoring your fat intake, there are ways to enjoy chorizo while limiting fat:
- Opt for reduced-fat or lean varieties of chorizo
- Trim any external fat before cooking
- Blot cooked chorizo with a paper towel to remove excess grease
- Use chorizo in small amounts as a flavoring instead of main protein source
- Go for chicken or turkey chorizo which are inherently lower in fat than pork varieties
With some adjustments, it’s certainly possible to fit chorizo into a heart-healthy diet.
Calories in Chorizo
Lastly, let’s look at the calorie content of chorizo sausage.
On average, chorizo packs about 90 calories into each ounce. These calories come primarily from its fat content, with minimal carbs or protein.
To put this in perspective, here’s how the calories in chorizo compare to other foods:
- More calories than chicken breast which has around 30 calories per ounce
- Less calories than most cuts of beef like ground beef at 120 calories an ounce
- Similar calories to bacon, hot dogs and hard salami (80-110 calories per ounce)
As you can see, chorizo is one of the more calorie-dense proteins. Those calories predominantly come from its high fat content rather than carbs or protein.
If weight loss is a goal, chorizo is a food best consumed in moderation. A few strategies for cutting calories from chorizo include:
- Limit portion size to 1-2 ounces
- Substitute half the chorizo in a recipe for a lower-calorie protein like beans or tofu
- Opt for reduced-fat chorizo which cuts both fat and calories
- Bulk up dishes by adding extra low-calorie veggies
- Skip higher-calorie cooking methods like frying. Opt for baking, grilling or sautéing instead
With smart portioning and cooking methods, chorizo can absolutely be part of a reduced-calorie diet.
Chorizo’s impressive macros offer a nutritional profile rich in protein, monounsaturated fat and flavor.
Per ounce, chorizo typically provides:
- 90 calories
- 6g of protein
- 8g of fat
The high protein makes it a quality choice after exercise to support muscle recovery. Its monounsaturated fat content also gives it heart-healthy benefits.
Like any food, chorizo is best enjoyed in moderation as part of a diet focused on variety, balance and whole foods. By pairing chorizo with vegetables, greens, beans, grains and other nutrient-dense foods, you can easily achieve a well-rounded meal.
The key is watching portion sizes if you’re monitoring fat or calories. But used sensibly, chorizo’s rich spice and nutritious macros can be an excellent addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is chorizo healthy?
Chorizo can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. It provides beneficial protein, monounsaturated fat and nutrients. But it’s high in sodium and saturated fat, so portion size matters.
Is chorizo good for weight loss?
Chorizo can support weight loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet, but it’s calorie-dense. Stick to 1-2oz portions along with veggies, whole grains, etc. Opt for leaner chicken or turkey chorizo when possible.
What is the healthiest way to cook chorizo?
Grilling, baking or sautéing chorizo are healthier cooking methods. Avoid frying in oil, which significantly increases calories and fat.
Is it OK to eat chorizo every day?
It’s best to keep chorizo as an occasional part of a varied diet rather than eating it daily. The sodium content can be high, so moderation is key. Add plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins.
Is chorizo a good source of protein?
Yes, chorizo provides around 6-8g of complete, high-quality protein per ounce. It’s a good option post-workout or as part of a protein-rich meal.
- USDA FoodData Central. “Chorizo, Spanish, pork.” FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/788966/nutrients.
- Mawhinney, Thomas. “Nutritional Value of Chorizo.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutritional-value-chorizo-5955.html#:~:text=A%201%2Dounce%20serving%20of,than%203%20percent%20of%20carbohydrates
- Dunford, Elizabeth. “Chorizo nutrition facts and health benefits.” Medical News Today, 23 Mar. 2021, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/chorizo-nutrition
- Gunnars, Kris. “Lean Meats for Weight Loss: Beef, Turkey, Pork, Chicken…” Healthline, 12 June 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/35-foods-to-cut-belly-fat#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8.
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