Alone or on top of your favorite salad or pizza recipe, pepperoni adds a savory and spicy flavor to your meal or snack. Pepperoni, which means large peppers in Italian, is not actually the name of a salami in Italy, but there are spicy salamis similar to pepperoni in that region. The classic recipe of this Italian-American-born salami consists of beef or pork with a few spices and a culture to ferment the ingredients. However, there are some processed pepperoni products on the store shelves that may contain ingredients that are high FODMAP. So, let’s take a look at which pepperoni ingredients are safe and which should be avoided on the low FODMAP regimen.
Most proteins should be safe. Whether you stick to the classic beef and pork combination, or choose something different like turkey pepperoni, animal protein choices should be safe. However, if you choose a vegetarian pepperoni product, then you may encounter ingredients like wheat gluten or soybeans. Gluten is a low FODMAP non-no, but ingredients like soy protein isolate should be ok in small amounts. However, if ground whole soybeans or textured vegetables soy protein are used, then these high FODMAP ingredients should be avoided.
Some ingredient labels of pepperoni may simply say “spices” as an ingredient. This is not helpful to those on a low FODMAP diet, but common “spices” in pepperoni include salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, paprika, anise seed, and garlic. All of these ingredients are low FODMAP except for garlic.
Ingredients in some common pepperoni products that are safe to consume include:
- Mustard seed: safe serving is one teaspoon.
- Fennel seed: safe serving is one teaspoon.
- Ground black pepper: safe serving is one teaspoon.
- Crushed red pepper: up to ¼ of a medium fresh red bell pepper is low FODMAP safe, so consuming some crushed red pepper in your pepperoni should be safe in moderation.
- Red wine: five ounces is low FODMAP safe.
- Chili pepper: an 11cm long red chili pepper or green chili pepper is low FODMAP safe.
- Evaporated cane syrup: stick to about one tablespoon to be safe.
- Vinegar: One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar is safe, while two tablespoons of vinegars like apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar are low FODMAP safe.
- Yeast extract: low FODMAP safe serving unspecified by Monash University.
- Nutritional yeast: Fifteen grams or one tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes are low FODMAP safe. You may see this ingredient in vegetarian or vegan pepperoni recipe or formulations.
- Herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary: one teaspoon of dried herbs such as these are low FODMAP safe.
Ingredients that should be avoided include:
- Vital wheat gluten
- Garlic or garlic powder
- Onions or onion powder
- Sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, honey, or molasses
Although it can be difficult to figure out how much of each ingredient will be in a certain pepperoni serving, the important part will be to just avoid those ingredients that are low FODMAP. If a pepperoni product contains all low FODMAP friendly ingredients, then you should be safe eating that product in moderation. Be sure not to overdo your pepperoni consumption if you have irritable bowel syndrome though. This is because some people with this condition are sensitive to fats and could experience digestive symptoms if too much pepperoni, which cotains fatty meats, is consumed.
Take home message
Most classic recipes of pepperoni are safe for those on the low FODMAP diet. Just be sure to read the ingredient label before purchasing in case some high FODMAP spices or additives were used in processed pepperoni products.
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.