Table of Contents Hide
- Pork Nutritional Profile
- How Many Nutrients in This Food
- How To Serve Nutritious This Food
- Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
- How To Buying This Food
- How To Storing This Food
- How To Preparing This Food
- What Happens When You Cook This Food
- How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
- Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
- How To Interactions with Food
Pork Nutritional Profile
• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: High
• Fat: Moderate
• Saturated fat: High
• Cholesterol: Moderate
• Carbohydrates: None
• Fiber: None
• Sodium: Moderate
• Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins
• Major mineral contribution: Iron
How Many Nutrients in This Food
• Like beef, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk products, pork provides high-quality proteins with sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids. Pork fat is slightly less saturated than beef fat, but it has about the same amount of cholesterol per serving.
• Pork is a good source of B vitamins and heme iron, the form of iron most easily absorbed by your body.
• One broiled boneless five-ounce top loin pork chop has 4.7 g total fat (1.6 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, and 0.7 mg iron (4 percent of the RDA for a woman, 9 percent of the RDA for a man).
How To Serve Nutritious This Food
• Lean pork, thoroughly cooked.
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
• Controlled-fat, low-cholesterol diet
• Low-protein diet
How To Buying This Food
Firm, fresh pork that is light pink or reddish and has very little visible fat. If there are any bone ends showing, they should be red, not white; the whiter the bone ends, the older the animal from which the meat was taken.
Packages with a lot of liquid. Meat that has lost moisture is likely to be dry and tough.
How To Storing This Food
• Refrigerate fresh pork immediately. Refrigeration prolongs the freshness of pork by slowing the natural multiplication of bacteria on the surface of the meat.
• Left to their own devices, these bacteria convert proteins and other substances on the surface of the meat to a slimy film and, eventually, they will convert the meat’s sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine into smelly chemicals called mercaptans.
• When the mercaptans combine with myoglobin, they produce the greenish pigment that gives spoiled meat its characteristic unpleasant appearance. Refrigeration slows this whole chain of events so that fresh roasts and chops usually stay fresh for three to five days.
• For longer storage, store the pork in the freezer where the very low temperatures will slow the bacteria even more. Store unopened smoked or cured pork products in the refrigerator in the original wrapper and use them according to the date and directions on the package.
How To Preparing This Food
Trim the pork carefully.
You can significantly reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in each serving by judiciously cutting away all visible fat. Do not add salt to the pork before you cook it; the salt will draw moisture out of the meat, making it stringy and tough. Add salt near the end of the cooking process.
• When you are done, clean all utensils thoroughly with soap and hot water. Wash your cutting board, wood or plastic, with hot water, soap, and a bleach-and-water solution. For ultimate safety in preventing the transfer of microorganisms from meat to other foods, keep one cutting board exclusively for raw meat, fish, or poultry, and a second one for everything else.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
• Cooking changes the way pork looks and tastes, alters its nutritional value, makes it safer, and extends its shelf life. Browning meat before you cook it does not seal in the juices, but it does change the flavor by caramelizing proteins and sugars on the surface.
• Because the only sugars that occur naturally in pork are the small amounts of glycogen in its muscles, we add sugars in the form of marinades or basting liquids that may also contain acids (vinegar, lemon juice, wine) to break down muscle fibers and tenderize the meat.
• Browning has one minor nutritional drawback. It breaks amino acids on the surface of the meat into smaller compounds that are no longer useful proteins. When pork is heated, it loses water and shrinks. Its pigments, which combine with oxygen, are denatured (broken into smaller fragments) by the heat and turn brown, the natural color of cooked meat.
• This color change is more dramatic in beef (which starts out red) than in pork (which starts out gray-pink). In fact, you can pretty much judge beef’s doneness from its color, but you must use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat before you can say it is thoroughly cooked.
• Pork is considered done (and safe to eat) when it reaches an average uniform internal temperature of 170°F, hot enough to kill Trichinella spiralis, the organism that causes trichinosis.
• Killing these organisms is one obvious benefit of heating pork thoroughly. Another is that heat liquifies the fat on the meat so that it simply runs off the meat. The unsaturated fatty acids that remain in the meat, continue to oxidize as the meat cooks. Oxidized fats give cooked meat a characteristic warmed-over flavor.
• You can reduce the warmed-over flavor by cooking and storing the meat under a blanket of catsup or gravy made from tomatoes, peppers, and other vitamin C–rich vegetables, all-natural antioxidants that slow the oxidation of the fats.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Freezing changes the flavor and texture of fresh pork. When fresh pork is frozen, the water in its cells turns into ice crystals that can tear the cell walls so that liquids leak out when the pork is thawed. That’s why defrosted pork, like defrosted beef, veal, or lamb, may be drier and less tender than fresh meat.
Curing, smoking, and aging.
Curing preserves meat by osmotic action. The dry salt or a salt solution draws liquid out of the cells of the meat and the cells of any microorganisms living on the meat. Smoking hanging meat over an open fire gives the meat a rich, “smoky” flavor that varies with the wood used in the fire.
• Meats smoked over an open fire are exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in the smoke, including a-benzopyrene. Meats treated with artificial smoke flavoring are not, since the flavoring is commercially treated to remove tar and benzopyrene.
• Cured and smoked meats sometimes have less moisture and proportionally more fat than fresh meat. They are also saltier. Aging letting the meat hang exposed to air further reduces the moisture content and shrinks the meat.
Irradiation makes meat safer by exposing it to gamma rays, high-energy ionizing radiation, the kind of radiation that kills living cells including potentially hazardous microorganisms. The process does not change the way meat looks, feels, or tastes, nor does it make the food radioactive. But it does change the structure of some naturally occurring
chemicals in meat, breaking molecules apart to form new compounds called “radiolytic products” (abbreviated as RP).
• About 90 percent of these compounds are also found in non-irradiated foods. The rest, called “unique radiolytic products” (URP), are found only in irradiated foods (including meat). In 1985, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of low doses of radiation to kill Trichinella spiralis, the organism in pork that causes trichinosis.
Today, irradiation is an approved technique in more than 37 countries around the world, including the United States.
NOTE: Irradiation reduces the amount of thiamin (vitamin B1) in pork. (See above, Preparing this food.)
Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
Trichinosis comes from eating improperly cooked meat contaminated with cysts of Trichinella spiralis, a parasitic roundworm found in meat-eating animals. Meat-fed hogs are not the only source of trichinosis; Arctic explorers have gotten trichinosis from polar bear meat.
• About 10 to 100 cases of trichinosis from pork are reported each year in the United States; many mild cases, with symptoms similar to those of the mild flu, undoubtedly remain undiagnosed. See What happens when you cook this food, above.
Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Like other foods from animals, pork is a source of cholesterol and saturated fats, which increase the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood and raise your risk of heart disease. To reduce the risk of heart disease, the National Cholesterol Education Project recommends following the Step I and Step II diets.
• The Step I diet provides no more than 30 percent of total daily calories from fat, no more than 10 percent of total daily calories from saturated fat, and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. It is designed for healthy people whose cholesterol is in the range of 200–239 mg/dL.
• The Step II diet provides 25–35 percent of total calories from fat, less than 7 percent of total calories from saturated fat, up to 10 percent of total calories from polyunsaturated fat, up to 20 percent of total calories from monounsaturated fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol per day. This stricter regimen is designed for people who have one or more of the following conditions:
• Existing cardiovascular disease
• High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad” cholesterol) or low
levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs, or “good” cholesterol)
• Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes, diabetes mellitus)
• Metabolic syndrome, a.k.a. insulin resistance syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that includes type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes)
The decline in kidney function.
Proteins are nitrogen compounds. When metabolized, they yield ammonia that is excreted through the kidneys. In laboratory animals, a sustained high-protein diet increases the flow of blood through the kidneys, accelerating the natural age-related decline in kidney function. Some experts suggest that this may also occur in human beings.
According to the Merck Manual, pork is one of the 12 foods most likely to trigger classic food allergy symptoms: hives, swelling of the lips and eyes, and upset stomach. The others are berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), chocolate, corn, eggs, fish, legumes (green peas, lima beans, peanuts, soybeans), milk, nuts, peaches, shellfish, and wheat.
How To Interactions with Food
(demeclocycline [Declomycin]), doxycycline [Vibtamycin], methacycline Rondomycin], minocycline [Minocin], oxytetracycline [Terramycin], tetracycline [Achromycin V, Panmycin, Sumycin]). Because meat contains iron, which binds tetracyclines into compounds the body cannot absorb, it is best to avoid meat for two hours before and after taking one of these antibiotics.
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