Pork and nutrition
Can pork be part of a healthy diet?
Contrary to some beliefs, you can include lean pork as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Pork loin medallions and pork fillet trimmed of visible fat, are actually low in fat (less than 3% fat) and low in saturated fat (less than 1.5% saturated fat).
These cuts are quick and easy to cook. Pork is naturally rich in protein. Protein helps muscle growth and supports the maintenance of normal bones.
Pork is also naturally low in salt and provides nine essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to good health: thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
A varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are recommended for good health. It’s important to think about the balance of foods that make up a varied and healthy diet – a healthy dietary pattern includes plenty of wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, some beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, fish and eggs, and less refined grains and foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugars. Some lean meat such as pork can be included in a healthier dietary pattern and is in the protein group in the government’s healthy eating model – the Eatwell Guide. However, if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and/or processed meat a day, the Department of Health advises that you cut down to 70g to help reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
Tips for a balanced meal
- Take steps to choose lean meats or leaner cuts.
- Trim off any visible fat.
- Use healthier cooking methods, such as grilling rather than frying.
- If serving with a sauce, use healthier versions like tomato - rather than creamy-based.
- Serve with a higher fibre starchy food such as brown rice or potatoes in their skins, and plenty of vegetables.
Remember it’s the balance that is important.
Pork is versatile and easily adapts to different cuisines and tastes – so whether you’re cooking a Thai stir-fry or a traditional Sunday roast, there is a lean pork cut which is destined for your dinner table. Pork works amazingly well with a range of different fruits, from the traditional apple, to the more exotic pineapple… it’s an easy way to boost your fruit intake to count towards your 5-a-day. Learn about the different pork cuts here.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin and minerals play an important role in the functioning of our bodies.
Lean pork contains vitamin B12, an essential nutrient not found naturally in foods of plant origin.
Vitamin B12 can help reduce tiredness and fatigue, support our immune system and nervous system to work normally, and can help normal psychological function.
Vitamin B12 can be found naturally in red meat and dairy, as well as eggs and fish. If you don’t eat animal products, you can get vitamin B12 from some fortified foods (e.g. some fortified breakfast cereals and dairy alternatives) and you may need to consider supplementation.
Remember a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are recommended for good health.