Pork: Everything You Need to Know
Although eating pork is forbidden in a number of worldwide religions (Judaism and Islam), and even illegal to do in certain countries, it’s still the number one most consumed red meat in the world. That’s because it tastes so good! If you’ve never been able to enjoy a hog roast before, you don’t know what you’ve been missing.
Pork is high in protein and is a rich source of several different vitamins and minerals, providing you with several health benefits that may interest you. This is why you should consider adding a moderation of pork to your healthy diet, if you haven’t already. Here’s more on pork and everything that you need to know about it. In case you missed this post, Pulled Pork In A Slow Cooker
Pork: Everything You Need to Know
Most Common Cuts of Pork
The following are some of the most common cuts of pork that you will find at the grocery store. Each one is different as far as tenderness, flavor, and even price. You’ve probably cooked or grilled most of them before. If you have a meat thermometer that would be awesome. I always use one for any cut of meat I bake or barbecue. The pork must have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. to be safe. Instant Thermometer
Pork chops come from the loin and are quite tender and lean. They cook quickly, and can be set on a dinner plate with almost anything. They’re so good I’m actually cooking them tonight.
Pork tenderloin is also cut from the loin of a pig, yet is considered to be the most tender of them all. It’s usually a smaller cut of meat that is delicious when combined with rubs, marinades, and spices.
Pork Loin Roast
Pork loin is sold boneless and bone-in and is one of the most affordable cuts of pork. It comes with a mild taste and is still considered lean, even with the fat that sometimes comes with it.
Spareribs are probably the most common cut of pork that you will find at the grocery store. It’s a bit tougher and fatty at times, but if cooked right, you will be treated to a tender and tasty slab of ribs.
If you love pulled pork, the pork shoulder is the way to go. It’s also a budget-friendlier cut of meat. It has more fat than the leaner cuts, but that only means that it has more juiciness, tenderness, and flavor.
A 3.5 ounce of ground pork that’s cooked provides you with these nutrients (fats and proteins may slightly vary):
- Calories: 297
- Protein: 25.7 grams
- Water: 53%
- Fat: 20.8 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
As you can see, pork is made up of a lot of protein. When lean pork is cooked, the protein content is right around 26% by fresh weight. When it’s dry, the protein content can be as high as 89%, putting it towards the top of dietary sources out there as far as protein is concerned. It also contains all 9 amino acids that are essential for human growth and maintaining healthy muscles. This is why you see certain people like bodybuilders, recovering athletes, and post-surgery patients eating so much pork because it helps to build and repair muscles.
You will find that pork has varying amounts of fat in it, depending on the cut and how well it’s been trimmed. Clarified pig fat (lard) is a great fat to use when cooking. Pork contains about an equal amount of saturated and unsaturated fats.
Vitamins and Minerals
These are some of the vitamins and minerals that you will find present in pork. They each play an important role in keeping you healthy.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 plays a big role in helping with blood formulation and proper brain function. If you were to have a deficiency with this vitamin, it could lead to anemia and damaged neurons in your brain. This vitamin can mostly be found in foods that are of animal origin, and pork is certainly one of them.
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps with the formation of red blood cells.
Thiamine is a B vitamin that plays a number of different roles as it pertains to proper body function. Pork contains a rich amount of thiamine, which is strange because most other red meats typically don’t.
Niacin is also in the vitamin B family (vitamin B3). It helps with a number of functions throughout the body, and is beneficial for growth and metabolism.
Zinc plays an important role keeping our brain and immune systems healthy. Pork is high in zinc.
While pork may contain a smaller amount of iron than beef and lamb, there’s still a decent amount present.
It’s a good source for phosphorus, which promotes body growth and maintenance.
This mineral is mostly present in animal derived foods, and this meat is no exception. It helps to fight off infections and improve our metabolism.
Pork also contains a handful of antioxidants, besides vitamins and minerals. Each of them provides you several health benefits. Creatine is one that promotes muscle energy and growth. You’ve probably heard how bodybuilders use creatine as a supplement to help make them stronger. Taurine is another antioxidant in pork, which benefits the heart along with your muscle function.
Glutathione is another essential antioxidant that’s present in pork, which is thought to reduce oxidative stress that produces free radicals. There’s also cholesterol in pork, but if you consume it in moderate portions it shouldn’t play a factor in your cholesterol level.
Muscle Mass and Maintenance
As you and I grow older, maintaining muscle mass becomes even more important. If we allow our muscle mass to deteriorate by not exercising and eating healthy, we will experience a decreased quality in life, which can eventually lead to muscle degeneration and sarcopenia.
A great way to preserve muscle mass is by eating pork and other foods that are rich in protein, along with exercising regularly.
Improves Exercise Performance
Consuming pork and other meat products will not only help you build and maintain muscles, it will also improve your overall physical performance. This means you may not become fatigued as easily, and your muscles will function more properly. This is because of the creatine, taurine, and beta-alanine (amino acid) that’s present in pork.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Pork and other red meats have been given a bad wrap in this area, but research has mixed opinions on the subject. There have been studies done that have shown that consuming too much red meat can lead up to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, but as long as you’re eating the right amount of lean pork, you will be better off.
How long can I store Frozen Pork?
I’m going to quote the USDA, “Frozen foods are safe indefinitely. For best quality, fresh pork roast, steaks, chops, or ribs should be used within four to six months; fresh ground pork, pork liver or variety meats should be used within three to four months; and home cooked pork; soups, stews or casseroles within two to three months. July 17, 2019.”
Pork is a red meat that should be enjoyed in moderation. Even though it’s not considered a diet food, it does have a host of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help keep your body strong and healthy.
You also want to be sure that you cook your cut of pork thoroughly so that you don’t get sick or have adverse side effects. Here are 100 pork dinner recipes that look amazing that you may want to check out. What’s your favorite way to cook it? I’d love to hear from you. May God Bless this world, Linda
24 thoughts on “Pork: Everything You Need to Know”
We only buy lean pork chops and the tenderloin. I have cut the tenderloin into chops about an inch thick. I package them in meal sized packages and vacuum seal. I also like to make a pork roast and pulled pork. We eat more chicken and ground beef.
Hi Deborah, I typically buy pork tenderloins because I don’t like tough meat at all. I get them from Costco and cut them up and rebag them as you do. Mark likes any animal meat, fish, etc. I’m pickier. LOL! I could easily be a vegetarian. LOL! Linda
Oh Linda, I could easily be a vegetarian as well. I love fresh veggies. That’s what I grew up on. We did have sausage or bacon for breakfast, but I’m not a big breakfast eater. Well, I’m the mornings. I do like breakfast for dinner. By fresh veggies, I mean home grown and put up either by canning or freezing. I think I could eat soup every day as well. I love soup.
Hi Deborah, We are so much alike!! I love soup, I’m working on some soup recipes for my blog. You should see my dining room table!! LOL. It’s covered with everything that goes in so many soups. I love fresh veggies too. I just bought an AeroGarden based on someone in our group here that recommended one. I will write a post about it soon. I want to grow vegetables inside my house as well as outside because I cannot afford a REAL greenhouse. Great comment. Linda
Yep–I’m a chicken and ground beef girl too. However, friend cooked a ham from Mennonites and it was the softest, most tender ham I have ever had.
Bought 8 pkg of bacon yesterday for the grease that I cook with. 3.20 a pkg.
I freeze and cook 2 pkg at a time…..behaves just like fresh when thawed in fridge.
For those wondering, if you vac seal those meats, they will last for years. Trust me.
We eat a lot of pork in southern Texas. We barbecue often. Our local Grocery stores run sales on pork butts and loins $1.00/lb. baby back ribs are also popular
Hi Gene, oh boy, Texas knows how to barbecue BIG TIME. My sister lives in Austin, and when I visit her I love to go to a Barbecue place and all the Mexican food I can fit in during the trip. That’s where I had my first bowl of black beans as a side dish. BEST restaurants on the planet! Linda
Love reading articles where I learn something I didn’t already know. I’ve always been under the impression that pork was considered “the other white meat”. I didn’t know it was considered “red”. See, I learned something. The two meats I eat are either “cow” or “pig”. I don’t care for “foul” of any kind so eat very little, if any. I just make a Salsa Verde Pulled Pork yesterday in my crockpot. As always, love your articles. Have a Blessed Day.
Hi Pam, thank you for your kind words. It’s so funny because I love to research and learn every single day. I’m left-handed and I’m not sure if that’s why but I LOVE learning. So I share what I learn. Life is so good when we learn from each other. That Salsa Verde Pulled Pork sounds yummy! Linda
Hello, Can you make any comments on how long pork will keep in a freezer if we buy in quantity at a store sale. Thanks.
Hi Richard, I’m going to quote the USDA: “Frozen foods are safe indefinitely. For best quality, fresh pork roast, steaks, chops, or ribs should be used within four to six months; fresh ground pork, pork liver, or variety meats should be used within three to four months; and home-cooked pork; soups, stews or casseroles within two to three months.Jul 17, 2019.” I hope this helps, Linda
Thanks Linda for the quick reply. Good information to know as we space out our grocery shopping trips these days.
What an informative article. Got me thinking, where does my food come from? I primarily shop at Winco and Safeway because that’s who’s closest. Some of the unlabeled meat (not labeled with processor etc) kind of makes me wonder – where is the meat from?
Thanks for another article!
Linda – are you in an area that is at least close to a farming area? or a Farmer’s Market? If you are, I would strongly suggest you get to know a couple or three farmers who raise and process their meat. Here where I am, I simply asked a farmer if I could come out to his place and get to know how he raised his meat animals and asked a lot of questions about how he processed (i.e. butchered, cut and wrapped) them. He was fine with that – I think he though it would be a quick trip and I wouldn’t be able to handle being there when he butchered! Ha ha – fooled him! Once I was comfortable with his set up, I inquired about pricing and how much I would have to buy at a time. He said if I could wait until he butchered for his family, he could sell me a few packages of meat at a time. I was there when he butchered and was able to have him trim the meat as I like – less fat except for the bacon of course!!
Hi Leanne, I will do that, I love the idea of look into some Farmer’s Market places for meat. Great tip, LInda
Hi Linda, I worry about where my meat comes from as well. I heard Walmart buys some meat from China, is this true, I do not know. I will not buy any meat from Walmart. Some countries regulate meat and “organic” food differently than the US. So, I’m nervous as to where my food comes from. I wish I had the means to have a hobby farm, not a full-fledged farm but a smaller version. I would like to produce 100% of the food I eat. It’s a dream but, you get what I’m talking about. Thank you for your kind words, Linda
I heard the same thing. Couldn’t prove or dispel it. I would LOVE to produce all the meat I eat.
Having been raised on a farm/ranch raising cattle, I am not really big on beef!! We raised pork and chicken as well for our own use. I recall when I was growing up, it was a real treat to have ANY meat other than beef. So a pork dinner was a treat. Then I grew up and always trying to lose weight so I cut the red meat (beef and pork) for chicken. Now I can honestly say that I only like ground beef and pork – mostly bacon and ham though! I do eat chops and pulled pork occasionally but they are not my faves in the pork line-up! Now, that being said, I am very particular as to where I purchase my meat. I have found a local meat grower who has his own processing set up. I know how he raises his beef, chicken and hogs as well as how he processes them (I went out to his place a few times to watch him as he processed his animals). As I said, I am very particular having grown up in a family where we butchered our own animals.
As to how long frozen meat will last – I swear (and I mean SWEAR) by the food saver! When I buy my meat – no matter what kind, I always repackage it in food saver vacuum sealed bags. I have eaten chops that were 4 years old and they were just as good as they were the day I bought them! BUT it is very important to vacuum seal them and label them very carefully. They were not the least freezer burned.
Hi Leanne, I love the FoodSaver, it protects meat, vegetables, and fruits. I love hearing you have meat that is 4 years old, I have nuts that are at least 4-5 years old in FoodSaver bags. I wish every family could have one in their home. They are so reasonable, we don’t need the top-of-the-line ones. I’m very picky where I buy my meat too!! Great comment, Linda
We live in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. So totally get our red meat from local farmers. It’s hamburgers in blocks of 1-2 lbs and hardly any fat. It’s the best meat ever! Chickens run around 20.00 each but they are clean/organic and whatever else.
It’s that time of year to start asking around. Farmers charge more for their meat but it is trustworthy isn’t it? I like knowing the faces of the farmers and eating my meals in peace. I’ll have to ask around about pork though. Thank you for reminding me!!
Linda, my favorite pork is bacon, but I love ribs, chops and roasts as well. Good info on how long pork stays good when frozen. I vacuum seal anything that is going to be frozen for long term storage. I now get my vacuum sealer bags from mylarbags.direct.com as they are superior to foodsaver bags.
Hi Ray, bacon is my favorite too! Life is good when we have bacon!! Linda
. I enjoy the pork cuts at a great price, being in alaska i want to know the shelf life of canning pork shoulder and pork loin/ is it better to use small jars pints or is quart size doable?
Hi Luke, I’m a Master Canner and Preserver, I’ve been water bath canning and pressure canning for over 50 years. The USDA states any food canned at home, whether water bath or pressure canning has a one-year shelf life. I know people have eaten food older than a year, I’m just telling you what I learned. Have I eaten peaches that were 3 years old, yes I have? Pints or quarts work when pressuring canning meat. All fat must be removed. Do you have a USDA canning guide? Linda