It has already happened that there are many myths about the role of pork for human health. Which of the common "theories" is true and which is a delusion, we will now find out.
Pork is the most consumed red meat in the world. Especially popular in East Asia, but "outlawed" for Jews and Muslims.
It is rich in proteins, minerals and many vitamins.
By the way, pork can provide a person with an almost complete spectrum of B vitamins, which is not characteristic of other types of meat. Lean cuts (de-larded) are an excellent choice for most meals.
And tenderloin and shoulder blade are even more dietary meat than chicken.
If we talk about the nutritional value of pork, it is important to remember that the calorie content of different parts of the carcass is not the same. Meat is divided into 2 types:
- less fatty: shoulder, brisket, ham, loin, lumbar;
- tallow: neck, drumstick, shank.
Like any other meat, pork contains a large amount of proteins. Lean pieces are more than a quarter composed of proteins. Lean pork can contain up to 89 percent of the nutrient by dry weight, making it one of the richest dietary sources of protein.
For this reason, pork is an important source of amino acids necessary for the development of the body and maintenance of its vital functions.
Promoting the growth of muscle tissue and faster recovery from injuries, pork meat is indispensable for bodybuilders.
In addition to protein, pork contains a large amount of fat. In a piece of medium fat content - about 10-16 percent, but it can be much more. It is because of such an impressive lipid content that some people completely refuse pork as a too high-calorie product. Interestingly, in its chemical composition, lard is somewhat different from the fat of ruminants. The pork product is slightly richer in unsaturated fats and contains little conjugated linoleic acid. Another feature of pork fat is saturated and unsaturated lipids in its composition are presented in approximately equal proportions.
Pork meat is a rich source of a complex of minerals and vitamins. The highest concentrations are:
- Thiamine. Unlike other types of red meat (such as beef or lamb), pork is particularly rich in thiamine (more than 50% of the daily value per serving). This vitamin represents substances of group B, which play an important role for the body (responsible for the growth and restoration of muscle tissue, nerve cells, useful for the metabolism of carbohydrates ).
- Selenium. This mineral, indispensable for the immune system, can be obtained from various animal products (meat, eggs, dairy products, seafood), but one of the best sources is pork.
- Zinc. Approximately 20% of the recommended daily intake of zinc is found in 100 g of pork. This element is important for the immune system, brain, bone tissue.
- Vitamin B12 (8% of the daily dose). Only animal products can serve as a source of this important vitamin, which is responsible for the formation of blood and brain function. Its deficiency leads to anemia and neuronal damage. It is always possible to provide the body with this important element from pork.
- Vitamin B6. This meat-derived vitamin is essential for the formation of red blood cells, promotes metabolism, and supports the proper functioning of the nervous system. A 100-gram slice of pork contains 37% of the daily value of the vitamin for adults.
- Niacin. Another name for the substance is vitamin B3. Responsible for proper cell growth and metabolism. Contained in pork meat (almost 40% of the daily dose).
- Phosphorus. This mineral, the source of which is also pig meat, is important for the adequate development and functioning of the body: it strengthens bone tissue, plays the role of "energy" for cells. A serving of pork will provide 1/5 of the required daily allowance of phosphorus.
- Iron (5% DV). Pork contains less iron than lamb or beef. However, the human body is more efficient at absorbing iron from pork. And it is known to be necessary to prevent anemia.
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2). The presence of this vitamin in red meat makes pork an important food for skin health. 100 g contains almost a fifth of the daily vitamin requirement for adults.
- Magnesium. Necessary for normal fermentation, important for muscle tissue. A serving of pork contains about 6% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium.
- Potassium (11% DV). Plays a key role in maintaining water balance, contributes to the stabilization of blood pressure.
In addition, red meat contains other important components:
- creatine (needed as an energy source for muscles, popular among bodybuilders, as laboratory studies have proven the effect of creatine on the growth rate of muscle tissue);
- taurine (the human body is able to produce this amino acid on its own, but obtained from dietary sources, it has a positive effect on the functioning of the heart and muscles);
- glutathione (antioxidant, abundant in red meat);
- cholesterol (pork is rich in sterols of animal origin, but as recent scientific studies show, cholesterol from food practically does not affect the index of the substance in the human body).
Pork: benefits and harms to the body
Disputes about how pork affects the human body were not born today. For many years, groups of scientists have been arguing whether it is possible to consume pork and what is more from such a diet - good or bad. Be that as it may, but pork is an important source of many components useful to humans. Therefore, it would be strange if a product with such a diverse composition did not bring any benefit to humans.
Along with many other animal products, pork is one of the best sources of protein. Maintaining muscle tone is an important factor affecting the health of the whole organism. Without exercise and proper nutrition, muscle mass undergoes not the most favorable changes with age. In severe cases, muscle loss can lead to sarcopenia (complete muscle atrophy, a common condition among the elderly).
High quality pork protein contains all the essential amino acids and is an important component for maintaining muscle mass. Especially useful in combination with strength training.
Insufficient protein intake can accelerate age-related muscle degeneration and increase the risk of sarcopenia. Consumption of pork or other animal products rich in proteins allows you to provide the body with the protein necessary for the muscles.
Meat consumption is not only good for muscle growth. This nutritious product improves muscle functionality and increases physical endurance. In addition, protein-rich meat contains amino acids necessary for the health of the human body. Last but not least, this effect is achieved due to the high content of beta-alanine, which in turn is necessary for the production of carnosine (reduces muscle fatigue during high physical exertion).
Thus, it makes sense to say that pork is good for those who wish to maximize physical performance.
However, researchers differed about the effect of red meat on the heart muscle. There is no clear evidence that pork alone can cause heart disease. Meanwhile, scientists suggest that high meat consumption against the background of an unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, reduced physical activity, overeating) and low consumption of fruits and vegetables in the future can cause cardiac problems. On the other hand, some consider pork to be unhealthy due to its high cholesterol and saturated fat content. But opponents of this theory argue that the so-called dietary cholesterol (from products) has little effect on the level of sterol in the body. As far as saturated lipids are concerned, there is also a counterargument to this argument: adequate consumption of pork will not cause health problems.
Uncontrolled cell growth in the body is a manifestation of cancer. Some researchers have found a link between red meat consumption and an increased risk of colon cancer. Others flatly refute this assumption. It is still difficult to definitively answer the question of whether pork causes cancer. But most researchers agree that processed red meat (especially fried) may contain carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines. They are found in most thermally processed animal products. Heterocyclic amines are produced as a result of exposure to high temperatures on animal protein. But these substances are already believed to be able to increase the risk of certain types of cancer (colon, breast or prostate glands). But many scientists are still in no hurry to draw final conclusions and continue research on the advisability of pork consumption.
Side effects of eating pork
Raw or undercooked pork is a food that is important to avoid. The reason is parasites living in raw meat.
Pork tapeworm is a parasite from the tapeworm family. Getting into the human body from raw meat, "settles" in the intestines. Sometimes it can reach 2-3 meters. This parasite causes cysticercosis (the disease is considered one of the causes of acquired epilepsy).
Trichinella are representatives of roundworms, parasites that cause trichinosis. Most often, this disease is manifested by diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn. But more serious consequences are possible (especially in older people). In some cases, it can lead to weakness, muscle pain, fever, swelling of the face. In severe cases, it causes death. Most often, parasites of this species enter the human body from poorly cooked (roasted) meat of wild pigs or freely grazing in the yard.
Toxoplasmosis is the scientific name for a parasite from the genus of protozoan unicellular "animals". It is believed that this parasite "lives" in the bodies of a third of the world's population. Cats are the main carriers of Toxoplasma, but pork can also cause health problems. Once in the body, the parasite causes toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasma poses the greatest danger to immunocompromised people, pregnant women, and their unborn children.
Myths about pork
- Contains no nutrients.
In fact, this type of meat contains a large amount of B vitamins, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, sodium, potassium, copper, almost all essential amino acids. It is believed that properly cooked pork is useful for women during lactation, as it enhances the production of breast milk. In addition, some substances contained in pork have the properties of natural antidepressants. Also, this type of meat is recommended for men to increase potency.
- Causes indigestion.
In reality, pork is perfectly digested by a healthy stomach. Moreover, researchers have proven that lean pork meat is the best choice for a dietary diet.
- Very fatty meat.
At first glance, this may seem crazy, but pork is one of the leanest meats. Pure pork contains much less fat than beef or young lamb and does not exceed chicken meat too much. Meanwhile, pork contains components that contribute to a more active accumulation of lipids in the human body. For comparison: in a 100-gram piece of chicken breast there are 142 kilocalories, a similar portion of pork tenderloin is about 96 kcal. And what is most interesting is that both products contain an equal amount of fat - 3 g. But those who want to lose extra pounds should not get carried away with pork cutlets. Although if once a week a diet tenderloin or pork shoulder appears on the menu, this will definitely not affect the figure. By the way, an adult can consume almost 200 g of pork daily without compromising health.
It is important for children to prepare dishes from dietary parts of meat (previously cut out all the fat).
- No children allowed.
Nutritionists recommend that infants begin their first complementary foods after 8 months. And lean pork slices, mashed, are also good for this. It is important to start complementary foods with meat from half a teaspoon of the product, gradually increasing pork portions. By the way, babies with lactose intolerance are highly undesirable to give veal meat puree, but nutritionists have nothing against pork. The main thing is to cut off the greasy parts.
How to choose pork
The quality of the finished dish directly depends on the freshness of the pork used during cooking. Here are a few tips on what a piece of fresh pig meat should look like.
- The meat is pink, odorless and iridescent, there should be no wet puddles under the fillet. The darker the meat, the older the animal was.
- A proper piece of pork lard should not contain more than meat. Fat should not be yellow, but white. The most juicy dish will come from the so-called marble piece of pork.
- The tenderloin is best for roasting and sautéing.
- Brisket should not be very greasy, better with skin. Suitable for baking.
- Ribs - ideally from a young gilt.
- Cutlet on the bone - 2 cm thick, with a smooth cut and with fat around the edges, "marble".
- Roasted ham is best with the skin on (it will be more juicy).
- Shank should be fleshy, with evenly distributed fat, smooth skin.
- The ideal piece of pork neck is “marbled”, but without excessive fat.
And one more thing. When choosing pork, you need to decide in advance what you plan to cook. And again - valuable hints:
- neck - for barbecue;
- carbonade - barbecue, frying;
- ribs - barbecue, roasting, smoking;
- rump - baking, stewing;
- ham - frying, baking, stewing, boiled pork;
- knuckle - aspic;
- undercuts - frying, smoking;
- brisket - soup;
- fore ham - frying;
- head - aspic;
- ear - aspic;
- tenderloin (the most dietary part) - frying, stewing.
How to reduce the calorie content of pork
In diets, chicken is usually used as a meat component. But pork can also be suitable for losing weight. Of course, if you make the right choice.
It is important to take parts where calories are contained in a small amount. Replace fried foods with stewed, baked or the most healthy boiled meat. You can reduce the calorie content of cutlets by mixing pork and beef in equal proportions. And for breading in the summer season, it is better to take not crackers, but grated zucchini (very tasty, and a minimum of calories).
What goes well with
Pork is a product that can be prepared in any way and it will still be delicious. One of the most popular pork dishes is barbecue with vegetables. But in this case, it is important to remember: ready-made pieces of meat should be cleaned of charred crust (it is harmful to digestion and may contain carcinogens).
In addition to traditional vegetable side dishes, sweet and sour berries and fruits go well with pork dishes. The taste of meat is emphasized by apples, pineapples, cranberry or plum sauces. By the way, fruit and berry sauces bind excess fats from meat.
As for spices, it is better to supplement a pork dish with bay leaves, rosemary, capsicum, cloves, mint, thyme. Juniper berries, ginger will add a piquant taste to the finished dish.
Pork is one of the most popular types of meat. It serves as a rich source of high quality protein, as well as various minerals and vitamins. Red meat is essential for proper muscle development, increased performance and physical endurance. Meanwhile, raw or improperly cooked fillets can cause serious health problems. Although overcooked meat is also dangerous, since such a product may contain carcinogens. Keep these rules in mind when enjoying pork, and it will only bring benefits.