Pork Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Pork, annotation
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Pork is sometimes called "the other white meat" because it can be a good source of lean protein, like poultry is. It offers many of the same nutrients as beef often with less fat and calories, although this depends on cut and preparation. Pork is commonly consumed around the world, especially in the U.S. and Asia, but it is not permitted in certain religions (namely Islam and Judaism).

Pork Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a 3-ounce (85g) serving of baked pork tenderloin.

  • Calories: 122
  • Fat: 3g
  • Sodium: 48mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 22g

Other cuts of pork include cutlets and ground pork.

  • cooked, medium pork cutlet or steak provides 239 calories, 34g protein, 10g fat, 4g saturated fat, 697mg sodium, and 0g carbohydrate, if you eat only the lean part of the steak.
  • 3-ounce serving of ground pork cooked provides 252 calories, 22g protein, 18g fat, 7g saturated fat, 62mg sodium, and 0g carbohydrate.

However, the pork chop is a far more popular cut of this meat, and the nutrition and calories for this cut vary greatly based on preparation.

  • A 3-ounce pork chop (broiled or baked) provides 180 calories, 24g protein, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 438mg sodium, and 0g carbohydrate, if you eat both the lean and the fatty part of the chop.
  • A 3-ounce pork chop (broiled or baked) provides 140 calories, 25g protein, 3.8g fat, 1g saturated fat, 447mg sodium, and 0g carbohydrate, if you eat only the lean part of the chop.
  • A 3-ounce pork chop (breaded and fried) provides 258 calories, 20g protein, 13g fat, 3g saturated fat, 465mg sodium, and 14g carbohydrate, if you eat both the lean and fatty part of the chop.

Pork is also used in many other meat products and processed meats.

  • A 3-ounce serving of pork sausage: 276 calories, 16g protein, 23g fat, 8g saturated fat, 693mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate
  • One medium slice of cooked pork bacon: 37 calories, 3g protein, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 135mg sodium, 0 grams carbohydrate
  • A single serving (85 grams) of pulled pork: 200 calories, 12g protein, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 490mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate
  • A 2-ounce serving of Spam (made from pork shoulder and other ingredients): 180 calories, 7g protein, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 790mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate

Carbs

Pork contains no carbohydrates, unless it is prepared with breading, barbecue sauce, or some other sugar or starch.

Fats

As an animal product, pork contains both saturated and unsaturated fats. If you are trying to limit your saturated fat consumption (as recommended by the American Heart Association), look for cuts of pork that include the word "loin," as in pork loin or pork tenderloin.

Protein

Pork, depending on the cut, is often an excellent source of lean protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pork is an excellent source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. It is a good source of zinc and potassium.

Health Benefits

Pork contains many of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) found in beef and it is high in protein, but can be lower in fat than beef—depending on cut and preparation.

Protects Muscle Mass

As we age, our muscles become weaker, which can lead to disability and injury. Consuming adequate amounts of dietary protein, along with physical exercise, helps slow this weakening of the muscles (known as sarcopenia).

Helps Cells Grow and Function

Like other animal products, pork is rich in the B vitamins thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and pyroxidine (B6). The B vitamins help the body convert food into energy, are essential for brain and nervous system health, help make and repair DNA, and produce hormones and red blood cells.

Allergies

Meat from any kind of mammal, including pork, can cause an allergic reaction (and some people who are allergic to mammalian meat also react to poultry). Scientists have traced some allergies to bites from the Lone Star tick, and others to an existing allergy to cats.

Meat allergies tend to develop in adolescence or adulthood. If you suspect a pork allergy, talk to your doctor about your diet and any treatments you might need.

Adverse Effects

When it is processed or cooked with salt, pork can be high in sodium. If you need to limit your sodium intake, you may have to avoid certain pork preparations.

In addition, eating a lot of well-done meat, including pork, can increase cancer risk. Cooking meat to well-done causes the formation of compounds, called heterocyclic amines, that are associated with several kinds of cancer.

Eating raw or undercooked pork is also dangerous. Pork can harbor parasites that cause serious infections in humans. Cooking pork thoroughly will kill these parasites.

Storage and Food Safety

Sealed fresh pork chops can stay refrigerated for two to four days. Ground pork will stay fresh for one to two days. You can also seal pork tightly using freezer wrap and freeze. Use frozen pork within six months.

Frozen pork should be thawed in the refrigerator (rather than at room temperature). A small roast will take 3 to 5 hours to thaw per pound, while a 1-inch thick chop will take 12 to 14 hours.

Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature between 145°F and 160°F. Measure the temperature at the thickest part of the meat without touching any bone.

How to Prepare

As an alternative to chicken or fish for lean protein, enjoy pork in tacos, salads, soups, and stir-fries. Adding variety to your diet keeps your meals interesting and provides your body with balanced nutrition.

Recipes 

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Article Sources
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