If you’re a man, red meat is probably high on your list of “foods I love”. Beef is the most common favorite, but pork isn’t too far behind. There’s nothing quite like a good rack of ribs, a proper Polish sausage, or some good ol’ pork chops!
Sadly, pork is one of the worst meats around. It’s not only fairly high in fat, but the risk of contamination and bacteria is much higher in pork than in the other red meats. Pork is also the most processed meat, and the sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and other pork products you eat will be highly treated and have a lot of chemical ingredients.
But it’s not all bad! There are a few benefits you can obtain by eating pork:
- Solid protein intake. Pork contains roughly the same amount of protein as beef. Roughly 20% of the calories from pork are protein, which is vital for healthy organs and solid muscles. If you are trying to build muscle, adding a meal of pork or two to your week can be a good idea.
- Lots of B vitamins. Pork is rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. All of these vitamins play crucial roles in your metabolism, and getting more B vitamins is the key to increased metabolic speed.
- Plenty of minerals. Pork contains a lot of iron, which is needed for the production of red blood cells (which carry oxygen and nutrients). It also provides selenium, a heart-smart antioxidant that can reduce your risk of cardiac disease. Finally, you get a lot of zinc from pork, which will help to boost your immune system.
- Less fat. Did you know that a pork tenderloin has less fat than chicken breast? Not all cuts of pork are low in fat, but the RIGHT pork meat can be a healthy alternative for a low-fat diet. There are many lean cuts of pork that will make a great meal, even if you’re on a restricted-calorie diet.
The key to staying healthy with pork is to eat it very infrequently. Many diets tell you to avoid pork altogether, which is often a good idea. Pork calories can be very high, as you’ll see in our nifty table below:
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Of course, despite the health benefits of pork, you need to understand that your risk of contamination is much higher when you eat bacon, sausage, pork chops, and other pork meats.
Pigs live in mud and filth, which means they are exposed to many more bacteria than cows, sheep, goats, and chickens. Trichinella is a parasite that often lives inside the muscles of pigs. When humans consume the muscles (that’s where all the meat comes from), the parasites can spread to the human digestive system–a condition called Trichinellosis. This parasitic disease can have serious symptoms, which can take weeks to deal with.
However, this problem can be avoided by choosing healthy, lean cuts of pork, and cooking the meat fully. While you can eat red meat rare, pork always has to be cooked thoroughly in order to reduce your risk of exposure to parasites. It’s the best way to be safe while eating pork.
And remember, just because pork is slightly higher in calories, that doesn’t mean all cuts of pork are bad. Pork chops, loins, and tenderloins can all be a diet-friendly choice, provided you remove the fat before eating. You can enjoy lean cuts of pork on any diet, and benefit from the high protein, mineral, and B vitamin content of this delicious red meat!