Is pork healthy or unhealthy? That is the question these days. Pork has gained so much notoriety over the years due to a number of factors, let me tell you three of the biggest concerns.
#1 – It is linked to trichinosis, an infection caused by roundworm parasites commonly found, not just in domesticated animals like pigs but also in wild animals such as bears and cougars. Humans get infected by eating undercooked or uncooked meat of these animals that contains larvae of the trichinella worm.
How to prevent trichinosis? CDC strongly advised to cook pork to a safe temperature. Use a cooking thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked pork. It should be at least 145F for a whole pork and 160F for ground pork.
CDC also said that curing (salting), drying, smoking or microwaving pork meat alone will not kill the parasites. You might want to rethink eating uncooked sausages or ham.
#2 – Most processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausage, hams and other deli meats use mostly pork. It’s an open secret that nitrates are being used in the production of these processed meats for curing purposes. There are a number of studies that link those chemicals to diseases such as colon cancer and heart disease.
How do we address this issue then? Avoid consumption of processed pork meat that uses these chemicals; otherwise, consume in moderation. A dietitian recommends “consumption of red meat (not just pork) to 1 to 2 servings per week, which is 6 oz or less per week. And if you have heart disease or high cholesterol, the recommendation is less than or equal to 3 oz per week.”
#3 – Religion is another factor giving pork meat such a bad reputation. Judaism, Islam and Seventh Day Adventist for intance are major religions that forbid the consumption of pork. So there’s about 2 billion Muslims, 16 million Jews and 21 million Adventists who consider eating pork taboo. But, the rest of the world’s population still eat pork, right?
Pork is a red meat, though it is often called ‘the other white meat.’ Compared to chicken, pork is slightly higher in calories, protein and fats although both have similar macro-nutrient compositions. Pork is also overall richer in vitamins and minerals, containing larger amounts of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamins B1, B2, and B12, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. If consumed in moderation, according to WebMd.com, it can make a good addition to a healthy diet.