Pork is one of the most delicious and popular meats in the U.S., however has long been plagued by a reputation for being unhealthy due to its high fat content and questionable farming practices. We break down everything you need to know about this controversial meat below.
- ...is rich in B vitamins.Pork is a great source of vitamins from the B group, especially vitamin B12. Without a sufficient amount of B12 in your diet, you can experience side effects such as lethargy and listlessness.
- ...contains a range of minerals.Pork contains relatively high amounts of powerful minerals such as iron, zinc and selenium, which help promote blood formation and strengthen the immune system, among other benefits.
- ...should always be cooked through.Even if it’s properly raised and packaged, pork can still contain pathogenic parasites. Therefore, it’s important to cook pork through so it doesn’t contain any pink, raw parts.
- ...can exacerbate gout.Depending on the fat content and cut, pork can contain up to 170 mg of purines, which is bad for the body if you suffer from gout.
- ...should be eaten in moderation if you have rheumatism.Pork contains a relatively high amount of arachidonic acid, with an average of 36 mg per 100 g serving. This unsaturated fatty acid enables the formation of messenger substances that promote inflammation in the body, which is particularly bad for those suffering from rheumatism.
- ...often contains antibiotic residue.Conventionally farmed pork can often contain antibiotic residues, which critics warn can cause humans to develop a resistance to antibiotics over time.
- ...may contain hormones.Pigs raised in factory farms are often fed special hormones to accelerate growth. Residues of these hormones can remain in the meat and may promote inflammatory processes in the body. With some research, you can often find independent, organic farms where pigs are not fed hormones.
What You Should Know About Pork
Pork's fatty content makes it one of the most delicious and popular meats around. However, it's important to remember that when it comes to origins, not all pork is created equal. In the U.S., factory-farmed pigs are often fed a diet which contains antibiotics to keep the pigs from developing diseases, as well as hormones to make them grow larger. The resulting meat tends to contain traces of these antiobiotics and hormones. While the quantities tend to fall within the legal limits allowed in packaged meats, critics have argued that over time, consumption of these substances may yield adverse effects to people's health, including causing immunities to antibiotics. Experts are also concerned about the frequent presence of residues of fungal toxins such as ochratoxins which can often be found in pork, and which over time can damage the kidneys. The cause of these fungal toxins is usually invisible mold in the feed pigs eat on farms.
For peace of mind, it's always better to purchase organically-raised pork, which is raised with no hormones or antibiotics. This also means the pigs have been raised more humanely, often with more room to move and with better-quality food.
How Healthy is Pork?
Lean cuts of pork can be relatively healthy, providing an average of 20 percent high-quality protein andelatively low amounts of fat and calories. Marbled chunks will contain much more fat (up to 40 percent), which can help heighten cholesterol levels. Of course, the amount of calories also increases with the fat content. And because pork doesn't contain any fiber, large portions can increase the risk of heart and circulatory diseases. Pork also contains high amounts of purines, which can promote or exacerbate gout. If you suffer from gout, or are at risk of developing it, it's therefore recommended you eat pork in moderation. This might be a good rule of thumb for most people, in fact. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of red meat, including pork, can have adverse effects on health. For example, the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease increases with the amount of meat consumed, as red meat is high in saturated fatty acids.
If you only eat pork in moderation and choose leaner cuts, however, pork be a healthful once-in-a-while addition to your diet. It's a rich source of iron, which is imperative to the body in creating new blood and helping the blood absorb sufficient oxygen. Pork is also an excellent source of B vitamins, especially the relatively scarce vitamin B12, as well as powerful trace minerals such as selenium, which helps protect cells against damaging free radicals, and zinc, which promotes healthy thyroid function.
|PORK NUTRITIONAL INFO (4 OZ. BONELESS CHOP)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
Make sure to purchase organic pork if you can, as it won't contain the potentially harmful antibiotics and hormones that factory-raised pork does. Don't purchase pork that looks pale or is floating in its own juices in the package. A lot of liquid can indicate the pork was previously frozen and thawed, while a lighter color indicates an odler cut of meat. Insted, look out for pork that is a more vibrant, red color, similar to beef, that that sits nearly dry in its package.
Because pork fat is so flavorful, we recommend always cooking pork with all of its fat, and only trimming the edges right before you serve it, if at all. When roasting or grilling pork shops, make sure not to let the meat get too dark, as this can produce unflavorful and somtimes harmful substances. And always make sure your pork is cooked through before serving, without any pink patches in the middle. Even a bit of raw meat can still contain bacteria that is potentially harmful to eat.
What to Make With Pork
Pork is one of the most flavorful meats around, and there are endless ways to prepare it. Our traditional Grilled Pork Ribs are an easy-to-prepare classic that are perfect for summer cookouts, as are these Southern BB Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Slow-Cooked Baked Beans with Pork. For fancier occasions, this elegant Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce is an elegant and delicious showstopper.
Pork is also the base of many classic dishes from around the world. This Goulash with Sauerkraut is a traditional and delicious pork stew in Eastern Europe, and is perfect for a cold winter night. Or try out this Pork and Vegetable Stir Fry brimming with delicious, vibrant Asian flavors for a quick and tasty weeknight meal.