According to mainstream media, pork is the unhealthiest meat you can eat and is considered bad for our health. But is pork really as terrible as they make it out to be, and is it ok to enjoy a bacon sandwich from time to time? Let’s find out.
Is pork good for you?
Indeed, pork is not the leanest meat or the lowest in fat. Other meats like chicken and turkey have much less fat than pork, so they are often considered healthier. However, that doesn’t mean that pork is inherently bad for us. In fact, pork can be a great source of protein and nutrients.
Even so, the healthiness of pork depends on a combination of factors. This includes the cut of meat, how it is cooked, and where it comes from. So let’s dive deeper into each of these factors.
What are the healthiest cuts of pork?
Some cuts of pork can be very high in saturated fat. However, there are some leaner options that you can enjoy as part of a healthy, balanced diet. For example, tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of pork. Moreover, boneless loin chops, leg, and boneless ham are also healthier options.
According to mayoclinic.com , you should also avoid minced or ground pork, like the meat you find in sausages. This is because it contains the fattiest parts of the animal, such as the skin.
What is the healthiest way to prepare and cook pork?
It’s common knowledge that roasting or boiling meat is much healthier than frying it. However, if you’re trying to incorporate pork into a balanced diet, there are a few more things you should consider.
1. Trim the fat
Before cooking, cut off any visible fat. Then, once cooked, you can check again, removing any other fat you see. If buying your meat from a butcher, you can ask them to trim the fat for you.
2. Use marinades
You may feel hesitant to trim the fat of your pork, worrying that it will make it flavorless. Therefore, to ensure your pork still tastes juicy, marinate the meat before cooking. Marinades help keep it tender and moist while cooking, so you won’t end up with tough, dry pork.
These sauces also enhance the flavor. However, some marinades can be high in fat, so be sure to choose low-fat versions that consist of lots of herbs and spices and wine, soy sauce, or lemon juice.
The longer you marinate, the more flavorful it becomes. You can either discard the marinade before cooking or use it as a sauce by adding it to your meat for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
3. Go easy on the oil
Oils can quickly add unnecessary calories and fat to your pork, so you should avoid frying meat as this requires a fair amount of oil. And, if you’re roasting or grilling your pork, use a minimal amount. Moreover, choose high-quality oil like extra-virgin olive oil rather than low-grade vegetable oil. Or, to save on calories further, use parchment paper instead. This will prevent the pork from sticking to the pan, eradicating the need for oil.
4. Cook on a rack
As pork cooks, the fat melts and drips away. Therefore, if you’re cooking pork in a pan or on a baking tray, the fats get trapped and stay on the meat. However, if you cook it on a rack with a baking pan below, the fat can drip down to the pan, removing excess fat from the meat.
Is organic and locally sourced pork better for you?
With all foods, fresh is best, but this is particularly true when it comes to meats. Processed meats have a bad rap for a good reason. Processed meats, including those smoked and cured, contain large amounts of sodium, preservatives, and chemicals.
But, how can you ensure the pork you buy is really fresh? Buying from a local farm or supplier like fields and table rather than at a big supermarket will guarantee the pork you buy is as nutritious as possible.
Furthermore, opting for organic meat means that the pork you consume is sustainably sourced and natural. With organic pork, the pigs are fed a diet that is free from genetically modified ingredients. Also, their food is grown without the use of any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
How much pork should you eat?
Of course, the answer to this will depend on the cut of pork and how you cook it. For example, it’s generally acceptable for most people to eat good quality tenderloin cuts a few times a week. However, we would not recommend eating fried bacon, sausages, or processed ham slices more than once a week.
All foods, even those considered unhealthy, are still okay to eat occasionally and in small portions. Therefore, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can continue to enjoy bacon and sausages with your weekend fry up!
Should you eat pork if you’re on a diet?
As well as being an excellent source of protein, pork is rich in much-needed vitamins and minerals, like iron and zinc. Therefore, if you choose lean pork and cook it using the above methods, you do not need to stop eating pork if you are on a diet.
However, watch your serving sizes and consider reducing your portion size if you are actively trying to control the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet. As a general reference, 3 ounces of pork tenderloin contain just 3 grams of fat and 120 calories, so we advise sticking with this portion size.
As you can see, pork certainly can be part of a healthy balanced diet, when eaten in moderation. In fact, a homemade pork stew is way better for your health than a takeaway pizza. As long as you are mindful about the pork cuts you use, how you cook it, and how often you are consuming the meat, there is no reason why you cannot enjoy a few pork dishes a week.