It’s become synonymous with one of the first American meals of the day, breakfast, and it has grown to become more than just a topping on a burger. You can fry it up in a chop, create a melt-in-your-mouth roast with it and so much more. Pork is a common meat you can find in many dishes worldwide, not just at your local market. Coming from the domestic pig, (Sus scrofa domesticus) there’s evidence that we began raising pigs for their meat and other products as early as 5000 BC.
It’s estimated that pork consumption counts for about 38% of production worldwide, resulting in some of the most unique and large numbers of pork recipes from all cultures. The most popular choice in consumption of pork is unprocessed but cured like smoked pork, ham, bacon, and sausages. While the age-old cliché of too much of a good thing isn’t always necessarily good, pork consumption as part of a regular healthy diet is beneficial to the human body!
We’re ready to dive into the discussion of the health benefits of adding pork to your diet.
Pork is high in protein and contains, depending on the cut, varying amounts of fat.
Let’s say we’re going to eat a 3.5 ounce serving of cooked, ground pork. You’ll be eating the following:
- 297 calories
- 53% water
- 25.7 grams of protein
- 0 grams of carbs
- 0 grams of fiber
- 20.8 grams of fat
All meat is made of protein and so is pork. It’s also an elevated source of high-quality protein which is an essential food nutrient for our bodies. High concentrations of amino acids are found within pork as well.
Amino acids are the product of digesting pork proteins, and essential amino acids are the building blocks of life. When our bodies ingest and break down protein into individual amino, our body will reorder them, refold them and turn them into whatever is needed at the time.
Pork contains all nine essential amino acids critically necessary for your body’s growth, muscles, and maintenance. Not only is it good for the normal everyday nutrition, but it’s also the perfect type of meat for bodybuilders, recovering athletes, people post-surgery and others that need to repair or build muscles.
Many know that a little bit of fat equals flavor. But lean cuts of pork are available for healthier choices should a diet call for it. The amount of fats found in a piece of pork depends upon where the meat comes from and how it is cut.
The average range of fat for pork starts anywhere from 10% upward to 16% and can climb higher in some cases. If fat is a concern and you’re attempting to reduce or cut it out, those lean cuts or trimming any pork you have will help you maintain your dietary needs.
Depending on your health as well as how much saturated fats you consume on a weekly basis, the saturated fats in pork shouldn’t contribute to higher cholesterol or health issues. Since pork includes Polyunsaturated fats, they are a contribution to your body's functions as they are required for normal functioning, but your body cannot make them itself.
Vitamins and Minerals
- Iron – Pork contains less iron than lamb or beef, but our digestive tract can absorb iron from it efficiently and so this meat is still a great source of it.
- Niacin – One of the B vitamins, niacin is also known as vitamin B3. This contributes to growth and metabolism.
- Phosphorus – A vital source for body growth and maintenance.
- Selenium – Pork meat is rich in selenium which plays a major role in thyroid function and health.
- Thiamine – Also known as vitamin B1, it enables your body to use carbohydrates as energy, assists glucose metabolism and plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function.
- Vitamin B12 – Nearly exclusively found in foods of animal origins, this vitamin is important for blood formation and brain function.
- Vitamin B6 – This vitamin is a key factor in the formation of red blood cells.
- Zinc – A mineral that boosts a healthy brain and a great immune system.
As we age, keeping your muscle mass is a very important health aspect. Without proper diet and exercise, muscle mass will begin to break down as we get older that can lead to many age-related health conditions. Muscle wasting is most common among older adults, so a proper diet with pork becomes a principle for improving the quality of elderly life. Of course, children developing and growing also need the protein for growth.
Pork contains taurine, creatine, and beta-alanine which are good for your muscles no matter your age. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that produces carnosine, which in turn helps your muscles function properly. Higher levels of this carnosine have been linked to reduced fatigue and improved body function. You’ll find riboflavin within pork as well and this contributes to our energy levels, cellular function, development, and the metabolism of fats, drugs, and steroids in the human body.
Pork has so much more going for it nutritionally than many of us may realize. But the fattier the cut of meat, the more it wanders from being healthy. Eating too much bacon, or thick, fatty roasts of pork daily aren’t recommended.
You can easily take fattier pieces of pork and make them more healthful by:
- Choosing cuts with minimal visible fats, like pork tenderloin, sirloin roast, and loin chops.
- Use low-fat cooking methods like grilling and baking.
- Cook thinner cuts of pork.
- Use ingredients with minimal fat composition.
- Stick to the recommended weekly serving of pork.
If you follow the recommended serving when adding pork dishes to your diet while trimming, rendering the extra fat or eating lean you’ll enjoy the benefits of this amazing meat.
There are so many delicious ways to cook and eat pork that will benefit you and your body, we hope you give this succulent meat a chance to be part of your meals!