A while back I wrote an attention-grabbing article entitled “Is Eating Pork Good or Bad for Your Health?” Since this article was originally published dozens of people have written me with counterarguments largely based on prevailing misconceptions and generalizations about pork.
Compelled to address some of them, I decided to revisit the issue of pork consumption and in doing so provide a fresh perspective on the potential health benefits.
For starters, there’s the common argument that eating pork increases the risk of developing trichinosis and taeniasis. These are two distinct parasitic infections that can result from eating raw or undercooked pork contaminated with either roundworms or tapeworms.
While trichinosis (roundworm infection) is exclusive to pork consumption, taeniasis (tapeworm infection) is not, as ingesting raw or undercooked beef is also associated with increased risk.
Nevertheless, simply avoiding contact with raw and undercooked meats can prevent both. This is why it’s always important to thoroughly cook your meats to safe temperatures. Equally important is that you avoid contaminating any and all cooking utensils and surfaces with raw meats.
It’s as simple as that!
Another argument against pork consumption relates to its high content of cholesterol, which is indeed one of the most widely touted dietary boogeyman these days. In spite of widespread belief, dietary cholesterol contributes very little, if any, to the development of high-cholesterol, heart disease and related health problems.
Aside from this misnomer, lean cuts of pork (tenderloin, loin center steak and boneless shoulder blade chops) actually contain less cholesterol than most meats. In fact, a single serving of top sirloin steak or chicken breast houses an average of 85 milligrams of cholesterol while a serving of pork tenderloin contains less than 75.
Again, I’m talking about “lean cuts” here as opposed to fattier varieties like bacon, ham, ribs, pork chops, and sausages.
In addition and unbeknownst to many, due to generally high levels of niacin (vitamin B3), consuming lean cuts of pork in moderate amounts can actually support healthy cholesterol levels.
Niacin is an important water-soluble micronutrient that bolsters fat metabolism. When coupled with a nutritious diet, niacin has been shown to reduce triglycerides (fat in the blood) and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Just three ounces of pork houses over 50 percent of a day’s worth.
The bottom line is this…
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