Pork is highly nutritious and recommended for healthy living.
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig. It is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC. Pork is eaten both freshly cooked and preserved. Curing extends the shelf life of the pork products. Ham, smoked pork, gammon, bacon and sausage are examples of preserved pork. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, many from pork.
According to Wikipedia.com, Pork is the most popular meat in East and Southeast Asia, and is also very common in the Western world. It is highly prized in Asian cuisines for its fat content and pleasant texture. The religions of Judaism and Islam, as well as some Christian denominations, forbid pork consumption; the sale of pork is illegal in many Muslim countries, particularly in those with Sharia law as part of the constitution, and is severely restricted in Israel (the only country with a Jewish majority). So, many people don’t eat pork for social, cultural and/or religious reasons, and not for nutritional reasons.
Dr. Nina Cherie Franklin, says that what most people don’t know, is that pork is one of the most overly consumed meats by humans. However, he explains that of all meats that we eat on a regular basis, pork is also one of the most difficult to digest. Just one serving of lean pork can take up to six hours to digest. Most people consume 2-3+ servings in one sitting and, oftentimes, more than once a day, which can dramatically delay the digestive process. Furthermore, fatty and overly processed cuts of pork like bacon and ribs take even longer to digest yet they are the most commonly consumed.
Dr. Franklin points out that pork is a problem when it is consumed in excess (more than one serving, twice a week). Excessive consumption of pork is most problematic because of the ways in which this slow-to-digest food affects the overall digestive process. In general, foods that digest quickly (fruits and vegetables) are held in the stomach until slowly digesting foods are released into the small intestines. During this time, the quickly digesting foods begin to ferment which can produce gastrointestinal disturbances (gas and indigestion).
“In the case of pork, consuming multiple servings in a day or even in a week can lead to a severe back up in the digestive system. This back up can make it difficult to absorb essential micronutrients from foods (malabsorption). Over time, undigested foods will putrefy in the stomach and small intestines leading to toxicity in the body. Again, this stuff happens when pork is consumed in excess.” He adds.
Dr. Franklin also advises that “when it comes to pork consumption moderation is key – no more than one 3-ounce serving twice a week. Such a serving of pork is about the size of a deck of cards or a bar of soap. Consuming lean cuts (tenderloin, loin center steak, or shoulder blade boneless chops) in moderation can actually be beneficial as pork is a rich source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals including thiamin, niacin, selenium, zinc and phosphorous”.
However, Dr. (Sir) Onah Frederick Chinedu, says “pork is the best meat in the whole world. It is white meat with low cholesterol level. He however, agrees that too much consumption of pork is unhealthy just as “too much of everything is bad.” Chinedu observes that W.H.O. recommend more than 85g of protein per person per day & F.A.O. reported that an average Nigerian takes about 45g or less of protein daily. Out of this quantity, plant protein is more than animal protein so there is great need to consume reasonable amount of animal protein from meat such as pork. This will help narrow the animal protein deficit gap among Nigerian consumers. Many countries like Brazil, China, Britain, Netherlands and America do not joke with pigs & pork as these form the major sources of their revenue. Research has shown that pig business right from southern Kaduna, middle Belt, Southern, Eastern & Western Nigeria is highly lucrative. Pork production will help to reduce malnutrition among low income earners in Nigeria.”
So, how does pork compare to other meats for fat, calories and cholesterol? Pork today compares favorably for fat, calories and cholesterol with many other meats and poultry. While providing a greater amount of vitamins and minerals, many cuts of pork are as lean or leaner than chicken. Pork tenderloin, for example, is just as lean as skinless chicken breast and meets the government guidelines for “extra lean.” According to Mr. Ohanaka Benedict, a Nigerian Farmer and expert in pig husbandry and pork production, pork remains “the preferred source of nutrition. It is very healthy!”
Nutritional benefits of Lean Pork
Lean pork is a healthy choice of meat. It is a good source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The low sodium content makes it a good choice of meat if you want to maintain healthy blood pressure. Below is a breakdown of key nutrients available in 100 grams of the cooked meat. This serving provides 190 calories.
- Protein – 30 grams
- Fat – 5 grams
- Vitamin B1 – 65 percent of recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B2 – 20 percent of recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B3 – 45 percent of recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B6 – 25 percent of recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B12 – 70 percent of recommended daily intake
- Iron – 15 percent of recommended daily intake
- Magnesium – 10 percent of recommended daily intake
- Phosphorous – 20 percent of recommended daily intake
- Zinc – 35 percent of recommended daily intake
Lean pork provides all 9 essential amino acids. This protein is also easily digestible which enhances various functions in the body. Protein helps to build and repair tissues throughout the body. It is also needed for cell growth and healthy membranes. Protein is a key nutrient for immunity functions in the body. It is required for the formation of white blood cells which are vital antibodies. A 100 gram portion of the lean meat provides about half of the daily requirements for the body.
A 100 gram serving contains 5 grams of fat. More than 50 percent of this is unsaturated fat which is healthier for you. Some fat is essential in a healthy diet. It provides energy and nutrients for normal growth. Fat also helps to maintain healthy skin. Fat in lean pork contains vitamins A, D, E and K. The fat also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an antioxidant. This antioxidant has been established as helpful in the prevention of certain cancers and heart disease.
Lean pork provides a good mix of B vitamins. Vitamin B1 enables various metabolic processes in the body. It also supports growth and repair of nerves and muscle tissues. Vitamin B2 helps in energy production. It also plays a role in growth and repair of tissues. It facilitates good vision and promotes healthy skin. Pork is an excellent source of vitamin B3. This facilitates the release of energy from metabolism. It also promotes the health of the digestive tract and healthy skin. Vitamin B6 also plays a role in metabolism. It supports the functions of the central nervous system as well as metabolism. The meat also contains high amounts of vitamin B12. This supports the health of the nervous system. It also boosts vitality.
Iron is vital for energy production. It facilitates physical and mental functions. This boosts your productivity levels. Iron is a vital ingredient required for hemoglobin formation. Hemoglobin is a basic component of red blood cells and transports oxygen throughout the body.
Magnesium is a vital mineral for development of strong teeth and bones. It also helps to keep blood pressure stable. This improves cardiovascular health and lowers the risk of heart disease. Magnesium also helps to maintain a healthy balance of energy within the body.
Few meat products give you as much zinc as lean pork. Zinc facilitates bone formation in children and teenagers. It also helps to maintain bone structure and helps prevent bone loss in older adults. It improves the body’s resistance to infections and boosts immunity.
This material was written with the help of online materials from Wikipedia.com, fitday.com and ninacheriephd.com
The comments of Ohanaka Benedict and Dr. (Sir) Onah Frederick Chinedu on a thread on Ike Ezugwu’s Facebook Timeline formed part of this effort.
Photo credit goes to: themeathouseblog.com; the grocer.co.uk and skinnytaste.com