Pork: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, June 8, 2009

pork tenderloin
We stirred up some controversy recently when we included pork on our list of energy-boosting foods. Some of you questioned whether it was healthy or safe to eat. So you can make your own decision, we thought we’d share pork’s nutrition facts. Is it really the “other white meat”?

Trimming the Fat
If you’re looking for the healthiest pork options, you want lean cuts — tenderloin, loin chops and sirloin roast. Bacon and other fatty cuts are very high in artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol and not for everyday eating. Baked ham and lunch meat fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to fat and calories. Just like with other meats, pork is safe when cooked to the proper internal temperature (it’s 160F for pork).

Some folks are conscientious of the environmental impact of meats they eat. If that’s you, look for local and free-range purveyors of pork products — just like you would for chicken and beef. Local or free-range products may have a higher price tag, but you can offset the cost in other ways like committing to a meatless day once a week.

Nutrition Facts
Lean cuts of pork are high in protein, low in fat and have more B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, B6 and B12) than many other types of meat. These vitamins play a role in a variety of body functions, including metabolism and energy production (that’s why we had it on our “energizing foods” list). For some perspective, let’s compare 3 ounces of cooked pork tenderloin to the same amount of cooked chicken breast — as you’ll see, they aren’t all that different:

Pork Tenderloin
Calories: 96 calories
Total Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Cholesterol: 48 milligrams
Protein: 18 grams
Iron 6%
Thiamin 45%
Niacin 30%
B6 27%
B12 6%

Pork also contains healthy doses of zinc and selenium.

Chicken Breast
Calories: 142 calories
Total Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 grams
Cholesterol: 73 milligrams
Protein: 27 grams
Iron 5%
Thiamin 4%
Niacin 59%
B6 26%
B12 5%

Chicken is also a good source of selenium.

Of course, what you choose to eat is always a personal decision. If you’re a pork fan, below is a collection of recipes you might want to try. If not, check out alternative meats like bison, which is also lean, or consider a more vegetarian-focused diet.

Pork recipes to try:

TELL US: Where do you stand on the pork debate?

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Comments (144)

  1. Jack Cowardin says:

    43 miligrams of cholesterol for pork tenderloin? The package I read in the store (2 loins per pack)says the servings have 23% cholesterol of DV. That's why I have stayed away from it. And is your chicken breast skinless, as well as free of fat globules that can easily be removed.

    Thousands of lives per year could be saved by triming the fat off of pork cuts, from chops, roasts, and loins. Yet your star chefs seem intent on cooking untrimmed pork. The use of bacon and its proliferation on the Food Network is abominable. All the stars are fat, except for a couple, and only Alton has a true sense of the responsibilty to educate eaters on what is healty, and what is poison. Take it from a former chef who now has heart disease. Flay can eat his rib-eye with a big chunk of fat on the edge, and Paula can butter and cream herself into the hearts of a gullible and obese nation, but their day in the Cath lab is coming.

    • Quinn says:

      Animal fat is good for you. Exercise.

    • Todd says:

      You're correct, but also, pork is filled with toxins because the animal is unclean, so says the Creator(Lev. 11). A pig does not chew it's cud, has only one stomach, and does not have sweat glands. All toxins are stored inside the pig. Swine also have a special tube running down each leg that secretes puss that can possibly get into the meat when butchering. I challenge all that read this to do more research on the animal, and when you know the truth, you will never eat pork again. It IS the suicide meat. The reason that people like Dr. Oz don't say anything against it is because it is such a HUGE market. All bottom feeders in the water are unclean also, and so are many other animals. If the animal chews the cud, and has a split hoof, that animal is clean. I'll leave you to think about that.

      • Mere says:

        Ok first of all pigs DO have sweat glands, ALL mammals do.
        Second, pigs do not need to chew their cud because they only have one stomach, chewing cud does not make the animal or it's meat cleaner.
        Third, there is no truth to the tube in the leg that secretes puss.

      • wlborden says:

        Pork is the primary protein source of the longest lived people on Earth. Read a book other than the Bible sometime

    • Laura says:

      23% of the recommended daily value…duh! It's a lot less than you are thinking it is. Learn how to read a label. The animal is not "unclean" as another stated below. Chickens- now they are unclean. They eat their own poop. Cows and pigs don't do that. And yes as Quinn says below, animal fat IS good for you. The processed foods that we shove into our bodies, that is what is bad for you. EDUCATE YOURSELF!

  2. Leah says:

    I listen to my body, I *really* listen to my body. I recently left my vegetarian diet of 5+ years (for a number of reasons), and have a pretty good idea of what a healthy diet consists of. Pork, on occasion, fits the bill. I like lean pork, of course, and (with regard to the above statement) still like bacon. I don't eat a lot of it. What I do eat, though, answers a call that body appreciates.
    I think pork, like with anything we put into our bodies, is something to regard with consideration and respect. It's good for me, and I respond to it.

  3. Fran says:

    Why is that everyone I met that say they don't eat pork is FAT? What ever they are eating they need to stop. For me I eat pork and I'm tall and slim. Now I don't eat a lot of it but I do eat it. As a matter of fact there isn't much I don't eat. I just never over eat.

    • Guest says:

      It has to do a lot with your metabolism! I'm sure your a fat person on the inside!! You eat pork so that explains a lot as to why you would say something like this..ignorant fool!

      • guest says:

        YOU are ignorant to say such a thing! Pork is a wonderful meat and it is full of nutrition. If you don't eat it, fine! Shut up and let the people that DO it eat enjoy it! STAY OUT OF PEOPLES BUSINESS! PORK POLICE……. Gimme a break! Midwest people UNITE, lol! WE LOVE PORK!!!!
        A True Cincinnati Girl :)

      • Guest says:

        Oh seriously shut up please. Your metabolism is controlled by EXERCISE. I used to be fat when I was 16, I had a horrible thyroid and they said i was very fat and my metabolism sucked. Guess what? I ate less, and …..EXERCISED. Bam I am healthy as can be! Stop using that as an excuse because you are really just hiding the fact that you most likely are LAZY.

  4. Jane says:

    We raised our meat, and always had a large garden when pour children where going up. They where very healthy and not over weight. I am very careful, now that I buy my meat and vegtables. I like to buy in local markets and farmers markets not chain stores.

  5. Diane says:

    I find the pork tenderloin to be economical and delicious. My family also loves when I make it for dinner. Their favorite is when I cook it with BBQ sauce, a little honey & molasses. As for bacon, because it is fatty, I like to use Canadian bacon. It makes a great BLT and goes great with breakfast too.

  6. Colleen says:

    My family enjoys pork tenderloin from time to time – we actually like it better than chicken, and it’s a tie with the traditional eye of round roast that my husband craves on Sundays (not every Sunday…but he would eat a mini “Thanksgiving” dinner every Sunday if I’d make it!). We roast it, grill it, saute medallions…we never bread or fry it, like some restaurants. We enjoy it!

  7. yes pork is great if chops are not over cooked, with a bit of pink. as to fat, it is what makes pork great even if you do not like to eat it one needs a little fat from like pork too and some evo oil. we cook ours in olive oil great. i do not like any over trimmed cut of meat!!! will not buy it as i say where is the fat!

    • Daisy says:

      Pork isnt bad if leaner cuts are chosen…and it is FULLY cooked at a proper temperature. Keep eating it "with a bit of pink" and you'll end up full of parasites that will cause disease and maybe the death of your ignorant self.

  8. Dennis A Smith says:

    God said not to eat the UNCLEAN,pork is UNCLEAN.It has allways ben UNCEAN and allways will be. God doz not change !

    • SMARTY PANTS! says:

      u are right god did say to dont eat the unclean and now ppl will think hey why and stuff becoz god dosent want you too die like that so stop eating it!

    • Tom says:

      What a mindless moron you are.God says "jump off a bridge!

    • SUNBUM says:



    • mikeg says:

      Ha, yes…. "God" said to not eat pork. Why? People were dying from trichinosis so the leaders of the time wanted people to stop eating pork. You must understand the audience at the time.
      If you live by every law put forth in the old testament you ain't got much of a life ;) Bacon FTW

    • Kate says:

      I dont eat unclean either, like crab, shrimp, pork etc..

    • Diego says:

      How is God?

    • Jim says:

      That all changed when Jesus came. The Old Testament had strict rules for sinners. We have been saved and cleansed by the grace of God.

    • Eugene T. Bernascone says:

      Contrary to popular belief, pigs are one of the most cleanest animals around. They are also very intelligent, regardless of what some evil, tyrannical make believe god in the sky says.

    • Karened says:

      If you don't have any science to back up your claims, please leave religion out of it. Religion is simply an explanation of the world and how to live from a time when humans knew NOTHING. We don't follow the medicine practices from 100s of years ago so why would nutrition be any different. The next time you get sick somebody should consult the bible for your care instead of modern medicine and then we'll see how useful your ancient text really is. Get with the times and leave religion where it belongs … in your home, not in intelligent conversation.

    • Steve says:

      I ate God !. Covered it with lemon, basil, beer, meat marinade and greek seasoning. roasted it in the bbq for 4.5 min a side let it sit covered under tinfoil and now I am full ! mmmm Thank-you GOD :)

    • ForGod'sGlory says:

      Dennis, I agree with you. God had a reason for telling the Israelites not to eat unclean meat. Research has shown the risks of pork, and anyone who has worked in a commercial hog barn can testify to what unclean animals they truly are. Anyone who has worked in a meat processing plant could probably testify to how unhealthy the meat is (not just pork, but pork is the stuff that tends to be crawling with worms, etc). I haven't worked in either place but my brothers have come home with stories from working in those places.

      The common cop-out used by Christians these days is that it was "Old Testament" and we are "free" and "not under the law." But did God really change the dietary laws? Jesus Himself didn't eat unclean meats. What the Pharisees accused Him of was breaking the EXTRA laws that had been made about handwashing, etc. He didn't break dietary laws. Peter's vision? It's very clear that God was using that to prepare Peter for the encounter he was about to have with a Gentile.

      I'd like to encourage anyone who's interested to watch these two videos:

      To Eat or Not to Eat (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcHukVMPC88
      To Eat or Not to Eat (Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB1qc9EBnyE

  9. Dienna says:

    Thanks for another great article. This comment is about pork or bacon causing heart disease… it is in the presence of EXCESS CALORIES that our bodies go haywire… don’t “flood the system” (imagine a light rain on your garden vs. a heavy rain which causes a puddle) which means DO NOT OVEREAT whether it be carbohydrates, saturated fat, or protein!!! The solution is not to vilify a single nutrient, but to include ample amounts of cardio-protective fruits and vegetables along with daily activity in the context of a eucaloric diet (one that meets BUT NOT EXCEEDS your energy needs). To eat a diet with too many calories, thereby accumulating excessive bodyfat and a dysfunctional metabolism (insulin resistance and dyslipidemia), and then place the blame on a single factor such as saturated fat is INCORRECT. People do this and then go to the other extreme and say “we must cut out evil bacon” vs. trying SMALLER AMOUNTS OF BACON in the context of a “healthy diet” (not excessive in calories).

  10. Chicken obviously has more protein, but Pork ain's doing bad at 18g per 96 cal. serving.

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