It’s easy to get into a rut when it comes to your weekly meals. One easy way to keep things interesting is by switching up your proteins!
Red meat has faced some criticism in the media, but in reality, red meat can be a great addition to a nutritious, balanced diet. Below is some insight on the nutritional benefits and cultural relevance of pork, and some recipe ideas.
Pork is a versatile meat that adds protein and flavor to any meal. When we talk about “lean proteins” being an important part of a nutritious diet, most tend to think of chicken breast and fish. These are great options, but pork can be a good addition to this category. With a variety of cuts available, it is easy to customize how lean you want your meat to be. The American Heart Association’s “Heart Check Mark” is given to foods with less than 5 grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fats, and 480 milligrams of sodium or less per serving. Both pork tenderloin and pork sirloin roast meet this criteria!
In addition to protein, pork can be a source of vitamins and minerals essential for health. Pork is a good source of iron, which is necessary for red blood cells to function. Pork is also rich in B vitamins, zinc, phosphorus, which are important for cell functioning, and potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. Remember, everyone’s individual nutritional needs are different – speak to a physician and/or registered dietitian to learn more about your unique needs.
Shopping for Pork
To make sure you’re purchasing a good cut of pork, there are a couple characteristics to look out for. First, the color of the meat should be a pinkish red color. If the meat looks pale, or is sitting in a lot of liquid, do not purchase it. Additionally, the fat of the pork should be white, with no dark spots. If you’re looking for a bone-in cut, avoid any cuts where the bone appears to be dark.
When looking at raw pork, remember three ounces of cooked pork is generally one serving. Four ounces of raw pork will cook down to about three ounces of cooked pork. Use this measurement when planning how much pork to buy for your family meals.
Here is a list of the leanest cuts of pork to look for when shopping, and how much saturated fat they contain. All amounts are estimated grams of saturated fat per a 3oz serving:
- Pork Tenderloin – 1.0g
- Pork top loin roast – 1.6g
- Pork boneless top loin chop – 1.8g
- Pork center loin chop – 1.8g
- Pork rib chop – 2.2g
- Pork sirloin roast – 2.4g
To decrease the risk of foodborne illness, it is important to ensure the meat has been cooked to the minimal internal temperatures to be considered safe.
- Loin, chop, or tenderloin: 145-160O Fahrenheit
- Pre-cooked ham: 140O Fahrenheit
- Ground pork: 165O Fahrenheit
To measure, place your meat thermometer in the middle thickest part of the cut. If the thickest part of the meat has been cooked to temperature, that means the rest of the cut is also safe to consume.
Pork is a huge aspect of many cultural cuisines. It is actually the most commonly consumed meat in the world! For those of us in the United States, if you’ve ever stopped at a barbecue restaurant in the south, you’ve likely seen a variety of pulled pork and pork chops on the menu. Pork is also prevalent in Latin American cuisines, such as Cuban, Mexican, Dominican and more. In China, pork is the most commonly eaten meat, accounting for about 70% of all meat consumption. In fact, China produces about 50% of the world’s pork.
Pork can be cooked in many different ways. You can put it in the slow cooker, grill, bake, or even air fry your pork. For inspiration for pork based recipes, check out commonthreads.org/recipes.