The world’s most widely eaten meat, pork makes up over 38 percent of global meat production. While this meat is popular in Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Oceania, and South America, it’s illegal in most Islamic countries. There are also some other cultures and religions that avoid consuming pork. If you read the Bible, pigs aren’t meant for human consumption - God instructed His people not to eat shellfish and pork. (Leviticus 11) But still, why are millions of people so addicted to the pig’s meat?
Like any other kinds of meat, pork is controversial and thousands of people start eliminating it from their diets either for the sake of animals’ lives (vegan and vegetarians) or for the sake of their own health (healthy eaters). Today, we’re going to discover some of the best benefits pork has to offer and the most disturbing reasons to stop eating this meat. But let’s start with its nutrition facts first.
Pork Nutrition Facts
Pork is one of the best sources of protein and large amounts of fat, albeit it’s considered to be a low-fat meat. Pork contains a host of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which can positively affect your health when eaten in moderation. If you’re not going vegan and you consume meat on a regular basis, here’s what 100 grams of cooked and grounded pork deliver to your body:
- 297 calories;
- 53% water;
- 25.7 g of protein;
- 7.72 g of saturated fat;
- 1.87 g of polyunsaturated fat;
- 9.25 g of monounsaturated fat;
- 1.64 g of omega-6 fatty acids;
- 0.07 g of omega-3 fatty acids;
- 0.00 g of carbs;
- 0.5 µg of vitamin D (10% of recommended daily intake (RDI);
- 0.7 mg (1% of RDI);
- 0.21 mg of vitamin E (1% of RDI);
- 0.71 mg of vitamin B1 (59% of RDI);
- 0.22 mg of vitamin B2 (17% of RDI);
- 4.21 mg of vitamin B3 (26% of RDI);
- 0.52 mg of vitamin B5 (10% of RDI);
- 0.39 mg of vitamin B6 (30% of RDI);
- 0.54 µg of vitamin B12 (23% of RDI);
- 6 µg of folate (2% of RDI);
- 88.3 mg of choline (16% of RDI);
- 35.4 µg of selenium (64% of RDI);
- 0.04 mg of copper (5% of RDI);
- 3.21 mg of zinc (29% of RDI);
- 73 mg of sodium (5% of RDI);
- 362 mg of potassium (8% of RDI);
- 226 mg of phosphorus (32% of RDI);
- 24 mg of magnesium (6% of RDI);
- 1.29 mg of iron (16% of RDI);
- 22 mg of calcium (2% of RDI);
- 326 mg of tryptophan;
- 1173 mg of threonine.
The nutrition value of pork is breathtaking. Apart from the nutrients mentioned above, pork contains almost all the essential amino acids that your body needs to function properly. Pork also contains several bioactive substances, such as:
- Cholesterol: It’s a sterol that generally doesn’t affect the cholesterol levels in the body, when consumed in small amounts;
- Glutathione: It’s an antioxidant that doesn’t play a huge role in the body’s functions.
- Taurine: It’s an amino acid that’s vital for healthy muscle and heart functions.
- Creatine: Popular among bodybuilders, creatine is a powerful energy source for your muscles and creatine supplements have been shown to promote muscle growth.
5 Health Benefits of Eating Pork
Due to its high nutrient content, well-cooked pork is loaded with some wonderful health benefits. However, it’s crucially important to eat the organic meat of pigs that are not raised in the factory farms. Nowadays, in the United States alone, 97 percent of pigs are raised in the factory farms, which means they never live healthy lives with fresh grass, fresh air, proper exercise, and proper nutrition. All the health benefits I’m going to talk about right now can be provided only by organic pork that doesn’t contain antibiotics and other drugs used to fight the infections, cure diseases, or speed up the growth of animals.
1. Regulate Blood Pressure
Unprocessed pork is an incredible source of potassium and it’s naturally low in sodium. When coupled, these two nutrients help to keep your blood pressure at bay. Maintaining healthy blood pressure is vital as it can play a detrimental role in your overall health. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage and weaken your brain's blood vessels and lead to stroke. It can also lead to a number of serious diseases, including kidney failure, dementia, transient ischemic attack, heart failure, enlarged left heart, coronary artery disease, aneurysm, and many more.
Eating foods that help to reduce or regulate blood pressure is one of the natural ways to ward off diseases. The American Heart Association has certified pork tenderloin with its heart-check mark as a heart-healthy product that contains 1 gram or less of saturated fat, less than 6.5 grams of fat, and 480 milligrams of sodium per label serving. So, don’t forget to read the labels!
2. Ward Off Cardiovascular Disease
The regular consumption of large amounts of vegetables and small amounts of pork can also help you reduce your heart disease risk, mainly due to the pork’s ability to regulate blood pressure and the rich antioxidant content of vegetables. Although many studies show that pork consumption can increase the risk of heart disease, it all depends on how you cook and eat it.
If you’re looking to improve your health without ditching meat, make sure you avoid fatty meals and don’t eat meat at least 2 times a week to give your digestive system a break. Also, avoid cooking pork with vegetable oils, which are loaded with toxic trans fats and contribute to chronic inflammation.
Can Bacon Be Part Of A Healthy Diet?
3. Maintain Healthy Muscle Mass
Organic pork is fortified with high-quality protein, which is essential for the healthy growth and proper maintenance of your muscle mass. As you age, it becomes more critical to keep your muscle mass in tip-top condition. Researchers claim that most age-related health problems are caused by poor muscle mass. Stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, physical and mental diseases, and air pollution have a negative impact on your muscle health.
If ignored, your bad habits and wrong lifestyle can lead to a serious condition called sarcopenia. It’s a widespread condition among vegans and vegetarians who are deficient in high-quality protein, and elderly people who lead unhealthy lifestyles. Sarcopenia is characterized by extremely low muscle mass levels and miserably poor quality of life.
Rich in protein, pork contains all of the essential amino acids that keep your muscle mass up as you age and help to gain muscle if you’re too skinny or a beginner bodybuilder. Combine high-protein diet with strength training and you’ll certainly manage to achieve your fitness goal.
4. Boost Your Workout Performance
Quality protein isn’t beneficial for your muscle mass only; it’s also a great source of energy needed for an optimal workout performance. Since people who work out intensively each day expend a lot more energy than those who live sedentary lives, their bodies crave additional nutrients, especially protein, to recover after each physical activity. Protein is a key nutrient that helps to strengthen and repair the muscle tissues. Foods high in protein, such as pork, help to optimize your post workout recovery and satisfy your hunger levels.
Pork also contains a wide variety of healthy nutrients, such as creatine, taurine, and beta-alanine, which are essential for your body. Including pork in your pre-workout snack will maximize your physical performance while adding it to your post-workout meal can help you fight fatigue and boost your overall energy levels.
5. Lower The Risk of Colon Cancer
There’s no proven fact that pork can fight cancer, but some observational studies have supposed that moderate pork consumption can lower the risk of colon cancer. Pork contains zero carbs and is high in protein. A low-carb, high-protein diet has been proven to suppress the growth of cancer cells and tumor.
Overcooked pork, though, contains plenty of carcinogenic substances, mostly heterocyclic amines, which can increase the risk of several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, and colon cancers. Aim to eat mildly cooked pork to avoid activating the carcinogenic substances in the meat.
6 Shocking Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Pork
Pigs aren’t the soulless items; they are the living creatures that have feelings too. They have the full right to live on the earth, just like human beings, or dogs, or cats. Unfortunately, people forget about this fact and keep eating those innocent animals. As you can see eating pork doesn’t bring many health benefits, then why is it still so popular?
After reading tons of studies and researches, I failed to find the powerful and proven health benefits of pork. But I did find hundreds of side effects it has. The question is, would you like to kill animals just for the sake of ruining your health? Check out the shocking reasons to stop consuming pork and who knows, maybe they will convince you to have more meatless days during the week?!
1. The Swine Flu Danger
In 2016, pork was eliminated from the markets in many countries because of the swine flu danger. Although the viruses affected pigs, it was proven that they could be directly transmitted from pigs to people. When you buy pork, you can’t figure out if the animal was sick or healthy. This means you have a very high risk of catching the swine flu that is hard to treat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the swine flu viruses H3N2 and H1N1 are highly endemic among pigs and the industry deals with them routinely, as the outbreaks occur year-round. When cooked at a certain temperature, the meat of sick pigs might be safe to eat. However, if you don’t stick to the temperature guideline – after all, manufacturers don’t tell you which piece of pork is infected and which is healthy – you risk getting sick pretty quickly.
2. The Higher Cancer Risk
The World Health Organization claims that processed meat like bacon, ham, deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages, causes different types of cancers. The processed meat is often classified as a carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer in living tissues. The scientists found that eating at least 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the cancer risk by 18 percent. If you love to have the fried eggs with bacon for breakfast each day, remember you’re gradually reducing your lifespan. This probably is the major reason why vegans and vegetarians live up to 90.
How much do you know about the pig’s body? How does it function? Did you know that pigs have serious problems with digestive system, especially those that are raised in the factory farms? While cows take up to 24 hours to digest the food, pigs take only 3 to 4 hours. Due to this rather quick digestive system’s work, tons of toxins remain in the pig’s body and people who consume this meat consume those toxins as well.
The harmful effect of those toxins is obvious. We already have many toxins in our bodies and it’s what makes us turn to various detox programs twice a year. Now imagine adding the animal’s toxins to your body while eating pork. It’s a real toxin explosion that can lead to chronic inflammation and serious diseases.
Apart from the problems with digestive system, pigs lack functional sweat glands and they almost never sweat. Sweating is a natural way to get rid of toxins. Unfortunately, pigs are prone to have millions of toxins in their bodies. Again, think about how much of them do you supply to your body by enjoying that smoked ham or grilled steak? Ugh!
Pigs have been shown to carry a great variety of dangerous parasites in their bodies. Some of those parasites stay in the meat even after you properly cook it. Trichinellosis or trichinosis is a serious infection caused by Trichinella roundworm that people get after eating infected pork. Those parasites can flourish and grow in the human’s body and often cause a number of health issues, including prolonged fever, unbearable muscle pain, swelling of the face or eyelids, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and drastic weakness.
If you notice any of these symptoms after eating pork, see your doctor as quickly as possible. Don’t try to cure yourself at home. Only a blood test can show if you’re infected. But the problem is, it’s not easy to detect the parasites until 3 to 5 weeks after you start experiencing the symptoms. Trichinosis is curable but it requires a specific treatment, especially if you have a severe infection.
Besides trichinosis, pigs can be the carriers of Paramyxoviridae viruses, Menangle virus, Nipah virus, blue-ear pig disease, Hepatitis E virus, Taenia solium tapeworm, and many other parasites.
The statistics show that more than 70 percent of pigs raised in the factory farms suffer from dangerous diseases, including pneumonia. The horrible environment, poor nutrition, and cruel attitude affect almost each pig and it would die in a matter of a few days if manufacturers didn’t use antibiotics. I’d say they overuse it in order to keep sick pigs alive as long as possible.
Millions of pork eaters, especially children, experience health issues because of those antibiotics. The average mild symptoms include strong abdominal pain, severe nausea, diarrhea, fever, and extreme weakness. Most doctors mistake these symptoms for those of food poisoning and the effect of antibiotics keep progressing, leading to more serious illnesses.
6. Stroke and Coronary Artery Disease
Consuming organic lean pork doesn’t lead to stroke and coronary artery disease (CAD). But if you’re a big fan of smoked and processed pork, read carefully. Both processed and smoked pork contains high amounts of sodium nitrite, nitrates, and preservatives, which all are harmful to your body. Sodium nitrite and nitrate have been proven to directly damage the blood vessels, leading to narrow and hard arteries, thus increasing your risk of stroke and heart disease.
Moreover, regular consumption of processed meat can boost your risk of diabetes and trigger the development of numerous types of cancers, including leukemia and colon cancer. Unprocessed pork can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, if it’s infected with parasites, toxins, and antibiotics.
These are just a few reasons to reduce your consumption of or stop eating pork. When I decided to go vegan, it wasn’t because of the reasons and side effects mentioned above. It was and it is because I want to stop animal abuse. You might like the taste of pork, but remember that you’re eating the meat of an animal that wanted to live a happy life – that deserved that chance. Many pigs are tortured to death and it’s hard for me to say it without tears in my eyes.
I’m definitely not promoting veganism. I was trying to help you learn about all the possible side effects of eating pork and how to eat it correctly in order to avoid diseases. Surely, pork is chock-full of nutrients but it doesn’t mean that the meat you buy in the supermarket is absolutely safe to eat.
© 2017 Haider
FlourishAnyway from USA on February 24, 2017:
No, I figured I'd start with one animal. I cooked the most with beef at the time, so it was the largest impact personally. Giving up bacon will be tough, but I'll make it.
Haider (author) from Melbourne on February 23, 2017:
Have you given up beef because of health reasons?
FlourishAnyway from USA on February 23, 2017:
I've been considering giving up pork, having given up beef in the 1990s. I do not miss beef at all. I think it's time to give up another animal. I hate the thought of their suffering. Health benefits are a bonus for me.
Haider (author) from Melbourne on February 23, 2017:
I do not eat bacon and the reason is the side effects. There are health benefits for eating bacon but as far as I have researched the side effects are alarming.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 23, 2017:
Seems to me that the dangers outweigh the benefits, but this is also true of other food items and medications. I was raised in and still belong to a religion (SDA) that advises against the use of pork. I like to say that I trust the Jews with my food. Nowadays many people who want healthy lifestyles are avoiding pork and other meats because of the negative factors, and I think that's wise. Your article taught me plenty though, I had never heard of the pro-factors.
blessedp on February 22, 2017:
Yes! You did. But the negative stands out more than the positive. :)
Haider (author) from Melbourne on February 22, 2017:
Haha! But I shared the benefits too.
Thanks for stopping by.
blessedp on February 22, 2017:
Oh! my word. I had pork for dinner. If I had read your hub earlier it would change my mind from having pork.
Thanks for sharing.