Is Pork Bad For You

Ninety-seven percent of pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms, where they will never run across sprawling pastures, bask in the sun, breathe fresh air, or do anything else that comes naturally to them. Crowded into warehouses with nothing to do and nowhere to go, they are kept on a steady diet of drugs to keep them alive and make them grow faster, but the drugs cause many of the animals to become crippled under their own bulk.

Pork: Is It Good for You?

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Iron 6%
  • Vitamin B6 0%
  • Magnesium 0%
  • Calcium 2%
  • Vitamin D 0%
  • Cobalamin 0%
  • Vitamin A 0%

Though you may have heard it called “the other white meat,” pork is considered red meat. It’s consumed worldwide, though it is against the laws of some religions — including Islam and Judaism — to eat pork.

As a red meat, pork has a reputation for being unhealthy. However, it is a good source of certain nutrients, as well as high-quality protein. Consumed in moderation, it can make a good addition to a healthy diet.

Nutrition Information

100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cooked ground pork contains:

  • Calories: 297
  • Protein: 25.7 grams
  • Fat: 20.8 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Pork is a good source of:

Pork is also a good source of vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, selenium, and thiamine.

Pork is actually richer in thiamine, a B vitamin required for a range of bodily functions, than other red meats like beef and lamb.

Vitamins B6 and B12, also found abundantly in pork, are essential for blood cell formation and brain function. Pork is also an excellent source of iron — the heme-iron found in red meats is absorbed very easily by the human digestive system.

The selenium in pork is essential for proper thyroid function. A six-ounce pork chop has more than 100% of the recommended daily allowance of selenium.

Potential Health Benefits of Pork

Pork is a rich source of certain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, like iron and zinc. It’s also an excellent source of high-quality protein. Minimally processed, lean, fully-cooked pork eaten in moderation can provide certain benefits when added to your diet.

Research has found a number of potential health benefits associated with eating pork:

Muscle Maintenance

The high-quality proteins in pork are complete amino acids and therefore perfect building blocks for creating new muscle. As we age, we lose muscle mass, which can lead to conditions like sarcopenia — extreme muscle degeneration.

Eating high quality protein like that found in pork — as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise — can help slow or reverse sarcopenia. It can also help maintain the healthy muscle tissue you already have.

Increased Muscle Performance

Pork contains the amino acid beta-alanine, which helps your body form a compound called carnosine. Carnosine is important for muscle function.

Studies have shown that high doses of beta-alanine supplements taken for 4–10 weeks lead to a 40–80% increase in carnosine levels in participant’s muscles.

High levels of carnosine have also been linked to lower fatigue and higher muscle performance in humans.

Potential Risks of Pork

Can Be High in Sodium and Saturated Fats
While pork is rich in several important vitamins and nutrients, it can also be high in sodium and saturated fats, two things that should be avoided as part of a healthy diet.

If you’re on a low sodium diet due to concerns over your heart health and/or avoiding saturated fats, you should consume the leanest, least-processed varieties of pork you can find.

Certain cured pork products like bacon contain sulfates or sulfites, chemical preservatives which you should consume in small quantities or avoid altogether. Look for salt-cured or uncured options instead.

Keep in mind that the way you prepare pork will impact its fat content. Instead of frying, opt for grilling, roasting, baking, or broiling. It’s best to avoid fat-heavy pork products like bacon. Opt instead for leaner varieties that are minimally processed and higher in protein.

Can Contain Parasites
Eating undercooked or raw pork can result in parasitic infections. Taenia solium, or pork tapeworm, is an intestinal parasite. Most of the time it’s harmless, but it can occasionally cause a disease called cysticercosis, which leads to epilepsy.

Eating raw or undercooked pork can also result in trichinosis, an infection of parasitic roundworms called Trichinella. While trichinosis symptoms are usually mild, they can become serious — even fatal — especially in older adults.

To avoid parasitic infection, always cook pork thoroughly. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure the meat has become hot enough to kill parasites and bacteria before serving.

Show Sources

USDA FoodData Database: “Search Results – pork, ground”

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: “Thiamine”

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging”

Amino Acids: “Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance.”

Journal of Applied Physiology: “beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters”

Amino Acids: “Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance”

Amino Acids: “Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity”

International Journal of Endocrinology: “Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment”

Clinical Microbiology and Infection: “Pork as a source of human parasitic infection”

Emerging Infectious Diseases: “Worldwide occurrence and impact of human trichinellosis, 1986-2009”

Pork and Gout: What to Eat, What to Avoid

Michelle Pugle is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of experience contributing accurate and accessible health information to authority publications.

Updated on February 04, 2022

Scott J. Zashin, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology. He was a volunteer clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School Dallas.

Pork is a red meat, but it’s often called “the other white meat.” This is because it’s a source of lean protein, like poultry. Pork has moderately high amounts of purines , however. Purines are compounds that produce uric acid when digested. Uric acid can build up in your joints and cause gout.

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Eating a lot of pork and other kinds of red meat, including organ meats like liver and kidney, increases your risk of recurrent gout attacks.

If you have gout, it is important to maintain a low-purine diet. To do this, it’s helpful to know the difference between cuts of pork and cooking methods. You should also know how much pork is recommended daily for people who have gout.

Pork can be part of a healthy gout diet if you follow some general guidelines on how much to eat and how to cook it.

This article looks at the nutritional value of pork and how it might affect you if you have gout. It also offers some cooking tips and tips for choosing the best cuts if you have gout.

Pork being cut and served on a wood chopping block

What Causes Gout?

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It is caused by excess uric acid or hyperuricemia . You can develop this condition when you eat high-purine foods and when your kidneys’ excretion process slows down.

When your body breaks down purines, uric acid is produced as a waste product. Excess uric acid can form needle-like crystals between joints and result in joint pain.

Nutritional Value of Pork

Pork is an excellent source of nutrients like:

  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Phosphorus

It also contains zinc and potassium. The following cuts are good sources of lean protein:

  • Pork tenderloin
  • Sirloin pork chop
  • Sirloin pork roast

These cuts can be part of a healthy gout diet. Lean protein is also a good choice if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight for gout-related health reasons.

Pork can also be a significant source of unhealthy saturated fats and cholesterol. This is particularly true of fattier and highly processed cuts like:

  • Pork belly
  • Ribs
  • Sausages

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating no more than 13 g of saturated fat a day. If you eat these cuts it’s easy to go beyond that. Keep in mind, too, that processed meats like sausage are known human carcinogens. This means they have been linked to an elevated risk of cancer.

Pork has a lot of calories, too, so it can be hard to maintain a healthy weight if you don’t practice good portion control. People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for gout and gout attacks.

Pork: Nutrition Facts

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 1 ounce (28.35 g) serving of pork contains the following:

Keep in mind that commercially packaged pork usually comes in 6- to 8-ounce cuts.

What Are the Best Cuts of Pork if You Have Gout?

Different cuts of meat have different nutrition, calories, and purine amounts. Avoid pig organ meats, which are all high in purines. These include:

The AHA recommends limiting servings of pork to 3 ounces. This is about the size of a deck of cards.

Purines in Pork
Part Total Purine Range
Heart 119 mg Moderate
Kidney

If you have gout, avoid high-purine cuts of pork and high-purine pork products. Choose cuts and pork products that have less purine and eat them in moderation. Remember that cooking method also matters. Consider the other foods you eat, too, to get a accurate picture of your total purine intake.

Cooking Tips For Lowering Purines

Cooking method changes the total fat and purine content of pork. Research has shown that rinsing foods with water before cooking can reduce total purines. This includes pork products like bacon.

Use gout-friendly moist or dry heat cooking methods, including:

  • Baking
  • Roasting
  • Air frying

Avoid deep frying. Watch how you marinate, season, and prepare your pork too. Experts say high-fat dairy and rich breading batters are high in purines. If you have gout, these should be avoided.

Avoid highly processed sugars, too. These are often found in store-bought marinades and sauces. Use these products very sparingly.

Purines release into meat juices when cooked. For this reason, you should avoid stewing pork or using one-pot recipes. It’s best to cook your pork alone and then add it to your meal.

Recap

How you cook your pork matters. Choose dry or moist heat methods like roasting or baking and avoid deep frying. Don’t use marinades or batters that contain a lot of processed sugar or fat.

Summary

If you have gout, you can still eat pork. Limit your consumption to lean cuts like sirloin and eat small portions. Avoid organ meats and processed pork products. Choose cuts that are low in purines.

You can lower the purine content of the pork you eat by baking or roasting and avoiding marinades and batters high in sugar or fat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does pork cause gout?

By itself, pork does not cause gout. However, a high-purine diet can increase the risk of developing gout. Gout occurs when the body creates more uric acid than it can remove. This results in crystals that form in the joints and tissues.

Is eating bacon bad for gout?

Bacon contains a moderate amount of purine. Most people with gout should avoid eating it. However, this does not mean it is always bad for gout. Everyone’s body works differently. Some people may be able to handle higher amounts of purine. Others will need to be more selective with their food choices to avoid a gout attack. Every person with gout should monitor their purine intake to understand their body’s limitations.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. CDC. Gout.
  2. Kaneko K, Aoyagi Y, Fukuuchi T, Inazawa K, Yamaoka N. Total purine and purine base content of common foodstuffs for facilitating nutritional therapy for gout and hyperuricemia. Biol Pharm Bull. 2014;37(5):709-721. doi:10.1248/bpb.b13-00967.x
  3. Pork. Pork nutrition.
  4. American Heart Association. Saturated fat.
  5. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pork, fresh, variety meats and by-products, mechanically separated, raw.
  6. Arthritis Foundation. Gout.

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Pigs

Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Pigs

Attention, shoppers: Stop picking up dead “Babes” and “Wilburs” at the grocery store! Here are our top 10 reasons to keep pork off your fork and put delicious Babe-free alternatives on your shopping list instead.

1. Porking You Up

It’s a fact—ham, sausage, and bacon strips will go right to your hips. Eating pork products, which are loaded with artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat, is a good way to increase your waistline and increase your chances of developing deadly diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, asthma, and impotence. Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters. Plus, meat-eaters are nine times more likely to be obese than pure vegetarians are.

Fat Overweight Men

2. Pigs Have Feelings Too

Ninety-seven percent of pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms, where they will never run across sprawling pastures, bask in the sun, breathe fresh air, or do anything else that comes naturally to them. Crowded into warehouses with nothing to do and nowhere to go, they are kept on a steady diet of drugs to keep them alive and make them grow faster, but the drugs cause many of the animals to become crippled under their own bulk.

Two Pigs in Grass

3. Pigs and Playstations

Think that you can outplay a pig on your Playstation? You may be surprised. According to research, pigs are much smarter than dogs, and they even do better at video games than some primates. In fact, pigs are extremely clever animals who form complex social networks and have excellent memories. Eating a pig is like eating your dog! As actor Cameron Diaz put it after hearing that pigs have the mental capacity of a 3-year-old human: “[Eating bacon is] like eating my niece!”

Learn more fascinating facts and read inspiring stories about pigs and other animals in the bestselling book Animalkind.

Happy pig

4. Pigs Prefer Mud, Not Crud

Pigs are actually very clean animals. If they are given sufficient space, pigs are careful not to soil the areas where they sleep or eat. And forget the silly saying “sweating like a pig”—pigs can’t even sweat! That’s why they bathe in water or mud to cool off. But in factory farms, they’re forced to live in their own feces and vomit and even amid the corpses of other pigs. Conditions are so filthy that at any given time, more than one-quarter of pigs suffer from mange—think of your worst case of poison ivy, and imagine having to suffer from it for the rest of your life.

5. Farming Family Values

Factory farms are pure hell for pigs and their babies. Mother pigs spend most of their lives in tiny “gestation” crates, which are so small that the animals are unable to turn around or even lie down comfortably. They are repeatedly impregnated until they are slaughtered. Piglets, who are taken away from their distraught mothers after just a few weeks, have their tails chopped off, their teeth are clipped off with pliers, and the males are castrated—all without painkillers.

6471.gestation_5F00_create_5F00_465.jpg

6. The Manure Is Blowing in the Wind …

A pig farm with 5,000 animals produces as much fecal waste as a city of 50,000 people. In 1995, 25 million gallons of putrid hog urine and feces spilled into a North Carolina river, immediately killing between 10 and 14 million fish. To get around water pollution limits, factory farms will frequently take the tons of urine and feces that are stored in cesspools and turn them into liquid waste that they spray into the air. This manure-filled mist is carried away by the wind and inhaled by the people who live nearby.

Sad Pig

FreeImages.com/Griszka Niewiadomski

7. Bacteria-Laden Bacon and Harmful Ham

Extremely crowded conditions, poor ventilation, and filth in factory farms cause such rampant disease in pigs that 70 percent of them have pneumonia by the time they’re sent to the slaughterhouse. In order to keep pigs alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them and to promote unnaturally fast growth, the industry keeps pigs on a steady diet of the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses. This overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of “superbacteria,” or antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. The ham, bacon, and sausage that you’re eating may make the drugs that your doctor prescribes the next time you get sick completely ineffective.

pig killed for food

8. Hell on Wheels

More than 170,000 pigs die in transport each year, and more than 420,000 are crippled by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse. Transport trucks, which carry pigs hundreds of miles through all weather extremes with no food or water, regularly flip over, throwing injured and dying animals onto the road. These terrified and injured animals are rarely offered veterinary care, and most languish in pain for hours; some even bleed to death on the side of the road. After an accident in April 2005, Smithfield spokesperson Jerry Hostetter told one reporter, “I hate to admit it, but it happens all the time.”

3666.Pig_5F00_Transport_5F00_465.jpg

9. Killing Them Without Kindness

A typical slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs every hour, which makes it impossible for them to be given humane, painless deaths. The U.S. Department of Agriculture documented 14 humane slaughter violations at one processing plant, where inspectors found hogs who “were walking and squealing after being stunned [with a stun gun] as many as four times.” Because of improper stunning methods and extremely fast line speeds, many pigs are still alive when they are dumped into scalding-hot hair-removal tanks—they literally drown in scalding-hot water.

5383.two-pigs.jpg

10. Ditch the Bacon and Get Fakin’

Save pigs from hell and yourself from bad health by feasting on faux pork products instead. Stuff a sandwich full of Yves brand veggie ham slices, or throw some Lightlife Smart Bacon into a sizzling skillet—the freezer and “health food” sections of your local grocery or health food stores are packed full of these and other tasty substitutes.

pig_5F00_Yahya-Idiz.jpg

Think before you eat another sausage link—order a free vegan starter kit full of delicious recipes and celebrity features today!

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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