How healthy is pork? Pork is a popular meat. It comes in many forms and can be almost be found in any meal. But is pork healthy?
What are the Effects of Pork on Your Cholesterol Levels?
A 2015 report found that consuming 50 grams or about 2 ounces, of processed meat everyday will increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Processed meat is any meat that has been modified to extend its shelf life. These include meat that has been cured, salted or smoked. Sliced ham from the deli counter, bacon and sausage are examples of processed pork.
A study which was published by the American Heart Association found that men who eat moderate amounts of processed red meat, such as ham and bacon, may increase their risk of heart failure or death from heart failure. Researchers recommend to avoid processed meat and eat only 1-2 servings or less of unprocessed red meat per week.
While a 2013 study which was published in BMC Medicine studied data from half a million women and men and found an association between processed meat, and cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition, researchers found that the more processed meat you consume, the more likely you are to die young.
Pork and Cholesterol
When choosing pork as your protein source, keep in mind the word “lean,” this means less saturated fat.
Pork is compact, lean, white meat if you pick the loin cut. A good example is a serving of pork loin with the fat trimmed off is almost the same as eating an equivalent serving of chicken with the skin trimmed off.
Pork tenderloin is another lean meat cut to look for. It contains 3.5 grams fat and 1 gram saturated fat, in a 3 oz serving, which is similar to a 3 oz chicken breast. A pork chop contains five times as much saturated fat. When you go meat shopping, it is good to remember that a center cut of pork is also lean meat.
Ham is considered red-meat pork, but if you trim the fat, it is also a lean cut. But keep in mind that ham, like other processed meats, contains higher sodium.
An ounce of lean pork has about 45 calories, which is the same as that of 1 oz of chicken. Cutting off the fat helps a lot. A 3 oz serving of roasted pork center loin contains about 169 calories with the fat trimmed, but about 200 calories if you leave the fat on.
High Cholesterol and Pork: What You Should Limit?
Some cuts of pork, like spareribs, can be as bad for you, as any red meat when it comes to the fat content. Pork spareribs are a high-fat cut, with 25 grams of fat in a 3 oz serving. Out of those 25 grams fat, 9 grams are saturated fat.
Pork choices you should limit or avoid as much as possible, are bacon, sausage and ground pork.
Healthier Pork Options When Cooking
Lean, white-meat pork is as healthy as chicken meat, but not as healthy as fish. Current dietary recommendations are for you to eat fish as your protein source at least twice per week.
You can try these heart-smart cooking options for pork:
- Avoid breading and frying. As breading adds calories and soaks up fat.
- Avoid pork gravy or barbecue sauce.
- Always choose broiled, roasted, grilled and not fried.
- Choose lean cut pork and trimmed fat.
- Remove any saturated fat before reheating leftovers.
- Remove any fat off the meat before eating or cooking.
Pork can be the “other white meat”, if you strictly follow these guidelines. You can still meet your main goal to avoid saturated fat when you have high cholesterol.