You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. If you eat healthily, you should be healthy too. Of course, the opposite is also true, and an unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain and illness. It can even shorten your life.
However, knowing what to eat is not always easy. Contradictory information leaves many people confused about what is and what isn’t healthy. Depending on who you listen to, fat, red meat, poultry, dairy, carbs, potatoes, and even fruit are either good or bad for you! It’s no wonder we’re confused.
The reality is that moderation is better than demonizing individual food products and food groups. So long as you eat mostly natural, unprocessed whole foods, your diet should be relatively healthy. And the occasional “treat” of so-called unhealthy foods probably won’t do you any harm.
In this article, we’re going to look at ground pork nutrition, so you can decide if this should or shouldn’t be part of your diet.
Ground Pork – Nutrition Facts
Pork is a popular meat and is usually cheaper than beef. Some people avoid pork because of concerns over its high-fat content but, in some cases, this is unfounded because there are both lean and fatty cuts of pork.
The nutrition breakdown for 100 grams of raw ground pork looks like this:
- Calories – 218
- Protein – 18 grams
- Fat – 16 grams
- Saturated fat – 4.9 grams
- Cholesterol – 68mg
- Carbohydrates – 0.4 grams
It’s important to understand that some ground pork contains more fat and less protein than others. The above example is for 16% fat ground pork. There are leaner varieties, and some have as little as 10% fat.
Ground beef also contains vitamins B6, B12, D, E, as well as calcium, iron, phosphorous, and selenium.
Is Ground Pork Healthy?
Just like most animal foods, ground pork is high in protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for lots of reasons. Eating protein provides your body with the building blocks it needs for muscle repair and growth.
Consuming protein can help you recover from exercise faster and may also help delay and reduce sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss.
Also, because of its high protein content, ground pork is filling and has a high thermal effect. That means it boosts your metabolic rate. These factors mean that ground pork is good weight-loss food, especially if you choose leaner varieties.
Finally, ground pork contains small but useful amounts of several vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits contain more, but ground pork can still contribute to your intake of these essential nutrients.
The fat content in pork means that consuming too much could increase your risk of coronary heart disease, which is the most common cause of premature death in the world.
Some studies suggest that a high intake of animal fats can cause clogging of the arteries that supply the heart with oxygenated blood, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure (1).
However, this issue is not unique to pork; all animal products raise the same concerns.
Interestingly, there are plenty of studies that refute this “lipid hypothesis” and suggest that there is no link between eating meat and heart disease (2). Factors like smoking, inactivity, being overweight, and nutritional deficiencies may be a greater contributor.
Heart disease aside, eating pork could cause health problems because it may contain parasites (3). These parasites can then infect humans, causing serious medical issues, including death. Pigs are natural foragers, and as such, will eat almost anything they can get their snouts into.
Pork raised in developed countries is tested for parasites and should be safe to eat. The same cannot be said for wild pigs or pigs from developing countries. Because of this, pork should never be eaten raw or undercooked. Thorough cooking kills any parasites.
Pork allergies are quite rare. However, if you ARE allergic to pork, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Hives around your mouth
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
Interestingly, people with cat allergies are more likely to be allergic to pork and pork products (4). Needless to say, if you have a known allergy to pork, you should not eat anything that contains ground pork.
Food Safety and Preparation
Because of the potential dangers of eating undercooked pork, it must be prepared properly. Ground pork should be cooked until browned, and any juices run clear.
If you use a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 degrees centigrade, and the meat should be allowed to rest for three minutes before consuming.
Regarding storage, raw pork will remain safe to eat for 3-5 days in the fridge but should be covered to prevent spoiling. Also, you should store pork at the bottom of your fridge so that any drips do not contaminate other foods. Finally, while you can reheat pork, it must be heated thoroughly and only reheated once.
Ground pork is a versatile and mostly healthy source of protein. It isn’t as fatty as some people believe and can make a welcome change to things like ground turkey or beef. Use it to make burgers, pies, and pastries such as empanadas.
The main concern with ground pork is the potential for parasites. However, modern food manufacturing processes mean that this is now a very small concern and should not affect pork raised in developed countries.
You can also avoid the problem of parasites by cooking your pork correctly and never consuming raw or undercooked pork.
In summary, ground pork is a useful source of protein, easy to cook, and relatively healthy. There is no real reason not to eat it as part of a balanced diet.
- Saturated Fat Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Ischemic Stroke: A Science Update, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5475232/
- The fallacies of the lipid hypothesis, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18615352/
- Parasites associated with pork and pork products, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9501363/
- Initial Description of Pork-Cat Syndrome in the United States, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3594363/