Is eating pork really bad for you?

Thanks for your question. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know my feelings on the words “good for you” and “bad for you.” I feel that, in some cases food can be very, very bad for you. The examples include: peanuts being “bad” for someone with a raging peanut allergy or gluten being “bad” for someone with celiac disease. But most of the time, foods of all kind can fit into a healthy and balanced diet.

Many experts are on the fence about pork in general, and they have differing opinions on whether to recommend its consumption or suggest people avoid eating it. Some dietitian reviews show that pork can be an excellent choice of meat. They feel that pork consumption may be a healthy way to increase protein in your diet (three ounces of pork tenderloin contains over 20 grams of protein) and it can be an excellent source of zinc for our diet. Some cuts of pork may be leaner than chicken breasts, so it may fit into a well-rounded and heart healthy diet! Other health experts have concerns regarding the animal welfare of pigs, environmental concerns, and concerns for harmful bacteria. Something I didn’t realize but learned this fact when researching this article, pigs can be smarter than the family dog. This fact made me cringe, as I love my dog more than anything and cannot imagine serving her up for dinner. There are also concerns for possible bacterial contamination. Consumer Reports conducted an inspection of pork production in 2013. They tested 198 samples of pork chops and ground pork across the U.S. and found potentially harmful bacteria on most of the samples. Yikes! It is very important that one cook pork to temperature. Ground pork should reach 160 F and whole cuts of pork need to reach an internal cooking temperature of 145 F. It is recommended that you check the pork with a meat thermometer before consuming. Environmental concerns also arise in regards to pork consumption. Urvashi Rangan is part of Consumer Reports and says “conventional pork can be fed antibiotics and other drugs daily, live indoors in unhygienic, confined conditions, and often have their tails docked,” Liquid manure storage is common on hog farms; these conditions help breed contamination and compromise the health of the animal, workers, surrounding communities and the safety of the food product.”

The takeaway message is to look for pork that is raised ethically and in an environmentally safe way. Look for “Organic,” “Global Animal Partnership” or “Animal Welfare Approved” on the label. Be sure to cook the pork safely and to temperature. People should strive to fill their diet with many fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy and then add smaller amounts of lean meats for protein. And remember that there are plenty of non-animal sources of protein also!!

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