Pork: Stay Lean, Don’t Pig Out!

Photo via 46137 via Flickr

Photo via 46137 via Flickr

Every Sunday, Tracy’s family wakes up to the smell of the bacon and eggs that she is frying up in the kitchen.  It is a long standing tradition that everyone looks forward to.  Unfortunately, it might not continue for much longer because at Tracy’s annual check up, her doctor recommended that she switch to a more heart-healthy diet because of her high cholesterol.  That made her quite sad because she didn’t want to give up such an enjoyable family tradition.  She loved that special time with her family and the food, especially the bacon.

Tracy’s Sunday breakfast tradition is not the healthiest and the bacon is not a particularly great choice for breakfast, but she might not have to completely forsake pork.  She might just need to prepare healthier cuts of pork.  Bacon, sausage, spareribs and hot dogs are the most popular forms of pork in the United States and they have given pork a bad reputation because they are very high in fat.  Luckily, not all pork is as unhealthy for you as those.  On average, fresh pork actually contains slightly less saturated fat than red meat.  Not only does it have less saturated fat than beef, it is also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins (especially thiamin), zinc and iron.

How can I eat pork and be healthier?
Like all types of meat, it is preferable to eat the leanest cuts of pork possible.  So, if you are going to eat pork, take these 4 tips into consideration when purchasing and preparing your pork.

  1. Choose lean cuts: Purchase tenderloin, center loin, fresh pork leg or lean ham.  Avoid fattier cuts, such as ribs, loin blade, shoulder and pork-based products, such as sausage, ribs and bacon.  Even though the fattier meats often sound more appetizing, they are not part of a heart healthy diet.
  2. Trim all visible fat: Cut off the visible fat prior to cooking to make your pork leaner and healthier.
  3. Pour out the fat: When cooking, do not leave your pork sitting in a pool of fat.  Either pour the fat out when frying or use a broiling pan in the oven to allow the fat to drip off and be separated from the meat.
  4. Limit portion sizes: Don’t make meat the main focus of your meal.  Limit your pork to about 3-5 oz (85-140 grams) at a meal.  Limiting portion sizes will reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed.  If reducing portions makes you feel like you are depriving yourself, try making kabobs or stir frying some pork with vegetables.  You will be able to eat less meat without noticing because of the way the meat is presented.
  5. Don’t buy cured pork products: If salt intake is an issue, avoid cured products, such as ham, bacon and cold cuts.

The bottom line:
Pork can be part of a heart healthy diet.  Just choose leaner cuts, limit portion sizes and choose better cooking methods because a diet high in saturated fats can increase blood cholesterol levels.  So, like with many foods, it all comes back to smart choices and moderation.  If you can master those two area, you can enjoy your pork and still be healthy!

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  3. Maria Isabel says:

    Pork is eaten in a lot of European countries. My family used to eat it on a regular basis but we haven’t done it for awhile. I bought some pork loin the other day to eat something different for a change.

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