Pork meat comes with amazing health benefits that includes preventing cancer, promoting cell growth, maintaining cardiovascular health, improving muscle mass, enhancing workout performance, and producing red blood cells. It’s health risk includes toxoplasmosis, tapeworm infection, and parasitic roundworms.
The meat of domestic pigs is called pork which is a widely consumed red meat across the world. Pork contains a slew of nutrients along with a considerable amount of protein. You can find unprocessed pork on the market whereas bacon, sausage, ham, and smoked pork are also common preserved pork products.
Lean pork can be a nutritious option as well. You can combine it with a salad or mashed potatoes. Pork meat blends in well with pasta and stew recipes as well. However, you need to cook pork carefully due to the significant risks of trichinosis. This article will cover the benefits, risks, and nutritional value of pork meat.
Nutritional Value of Pork
A single serving of freshly prepared pork can provide following nutrients.
- Calories 297
- Fat 20.8g
- Iron 8%
- Monounsaturated fat 9.25g
- Niacin 3%
- Omega-3 0.07g
- Omega-6 1.64g
- Phosphorus 4%
- Polyunsaturated fat 1.87g
- Protein 25.7g
- Saturated fat 7.72g
- Selenium 4%
- Thiamine 3%
- Vitamin B6 6%
- Vitamin B12 7%
- Water 53%
- Zinc 5%
Health Benefits of Pork
1. May Help Prevent Cancer
Studies have shown positive effects of red meat like pork in the prevention of cancer in your body. Cancer occurs when your body grows excessive cancerous cells. Consuming red meat on a regular basis can lower the risks of colon cancer. However, health experts have mixed opinions in this context, and more evidence is required to support the claim.
2. Promotes Cell Growth
Cell growth is essential to improve your overall health. You can promote this growth without hindrance via consuming lean pork. It is a storehouse of zinc. This mineral has shown positive effects when your body needs to produce new cells.
Zinc obtained via unprocessed pork is an excellent food source for pregnant women. It promotes the growth of the healthy fetus and strengthens your body at the same time. Zinc is also necessary to develop a protein structure and boost the immune system.
If your body lacks zinc, it affects white blood cells which are essential for combating pathogens. A single serving of pork chops can provide up to 23% of zinc which is your daily requirement as well.
3. Maintains Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases primarily occur due to increased intake of red meat. You need to consume a small portion of pork followed by a well-balanced diet to prevent adverse effects. Not to mention, pork contains a slew of nutrients. And, you need a regular supply of minerals to maintain your heart.
When you consume pork in moderation, the nutrients in it will improve your cardiovascular health. For instance, niacin is necessary to reduce the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol which is present in lean pork.
These vitamins also prevent the accumulation of homocysteine by converting it into essential substances. This way, homocysteine levels cannot affect your heart health.
4. Improves Muscle Mass
Incorporate dietary sources like lean pork is a great way to boost protein intake. You need adequate levels of protein to maintain muscle mass. It is true that muscle mass degenerates as you age if you do not exercise and consume a well-balanced diet. This muscle deterioration is threatening.
So, you need to add a few servings of pork meat to your diet. Protein also prevents sarcopenia – a condition where your muscles degenerate. Sarcopenia is common in senior people and affects their quality of life.
Furthermore, three ounces of pork chop contains up to 52% of protein which is more than your daily requirement. Protein also allows hemoglobin to carry oxygen throughout your body. Your body needs protein to produce enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Therefore, keep consuming pork and increase protein intake.
5. Enhance Workout Performance
Pork meat includes beta-alanine, taurine, and creatine. Your body needs beta-alanine which is an amino acid to produce carnosine in your body. This carnosine is necessary for muscle function. When your body has a considerable amount of carnosine, it will prevent fatigue and improve exercise performance. You can incorporate up to three servings of lean pork in your diet to improve your workout performance and to stay fit at the same time.
6. Produces Red Blood Cells
Pork can treat symptoms of anemia. This is possible due to the presence of B-vitamins in pork meat. These vitamins help transfer food into energy, develop neurotransmitter, and produce red blood cells. Pork meat is not only a filling meal, but it is a powerhouse of nutrients as well.
You can obtain up to 25% of vitamin B12 and 38% of vitamin B6. Apart from this, three ounces of a pork chop also provides 47% of niacin which is essential to promote bodily functions.
Health Risks of Pork
Consuming undercooked or raw pork leads to toxoplasmosis. It is a condition that affects you when Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite that is visible in the microscope only- weakens the immune system. The symptoms of this condition are mild.
However, it can lead to debilitating conditions in children and people who have a weak immune system. Pork-borne parasites are uncommon, but nutritionists recommend consuming only well-cooked pork products.
2. Pork Tapeworm Infection
Taenia solium or pork tapeworm is an intestinal parasite which can cause severe infection. It can grow 2-3 meters if you keep consuming undercooked pork. The infection of pork tapeworm leads to cysticercosis – a disease that affects around 50 million people yearly.
Although there are various minor signs of the cysticercosis, epilepsy is the significant one. In the case of pork tapeworm infection, avoid consuming any dish that contains pork until you recover completely.
3. Parasitic Roundworms
Parasitic roundworms lead to a disease called trichinosis or trichinellosis. The risk of the disease increases when you eat undercooked or raw pork. The patient of parasitic roundworm disease develops symptoms like nausea, heartburn, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Take note that senior people are prone to trichinosis due to weak immunity. If not treated on time, this disease can lead to serious conditions like fever, muscle pain, and swelling around the eyes. Consuming pork when recovering can be fatal. So, be sure to cook pork meat properly and keep an eye on the symptoms.
There is no question that red meat such as lean pork is ideal to obtain plenty of nutrients. You can prepare various recipes using pork meat and boost your day-to-day nutrients intake. From improving your heart health to strengthening muscles, lean pork is an excellent source to facilitate your overall health.
However, pay extra attention when cooking pork and avoid consuming it raw, semi-raw, or undercooked to prevent adverse effects.