Cholesterol in pork chops

Red-meat addicts, it’s time for a dose of reality.

A recent 10-year study, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), found that guys (and girls) who eat just 10 ounces (283 grams) of red meat a week are more likely to develop colon cancer than guys who don’t. Not a nice thought.

If you want to learn which meats are the worst offenders, check out our article on unhealthy meats. While nothing can replace a mouth-watering steak, there are plenty of tasty alternatives to hold you over. Here are five healthy meats that won’t wreak havoc on your colon.

1. Buffalo (Bison)

No matter how good white meat can be, it will never truly satiate the craving for red meat. Buffalo, however, can. It’s probably the reddest meat you’ll ever see and unlike beef, it’s pretty good for you. A hunk of buffalo has far less fat than steak and buffalo are generally grass-fed, which means healthier meat. Let’s compare burgers: Your typical lean hamburger (10 percent fat) contains about 0.32 oz (9 g) of fat. Buffalo burgers, on the other hand, contain less than half that, about 0.14 oz (4 g). Not bad for a tasty burger. There was a point when buffalo were endangered, but the beasts have made a comeback, especially on ranches. Today, buffalo meat is readily available in most grocery stores.

2. Pork

Pork chops used to be on the doctors’ hit list. Today, however, pork is “the other white meat” and is a healthy alternative to red meat. And when it’s eaten in reasonable quantities (8 oz), a pork chop can be quite good for you. Pork chops can be relatively lean, but they’re typically not as low-fat as chicken or fish. By contrast, however, a USDA, University of Wisconsin and Maryland study found that a 3 oz (85 g) serving of pork tenderloin contains 0.105 oz (2.98 g) of fat and that the same portion of skinless chicken breast contains 0.106 oz (3.03 g) of fat.If chops are still your thing, look for lean ones, and trim the fat before you eat them. A typical pork chop, with the fat cut off, contains about 0.3 oz (8 g) of fat.

Beware, however, of cured pork, like ham and bacon; both meats may contain nitrates and nitrites as preservatives, which have been linked to cancer.

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3. Chicken

White meat is much better for you than red — that’s a well-known fact. As such, chicken (not deep-fried) is a great alternative to red meats. It’s low in fat — without the skin — and it’s pretty tasty if it’s prepared correctly. Chicken is a great source of protein and, as an added bonus, it’s less expensive than beef. But remember, there’s always the risk of E. coli infection when you’re dealing with chicken. Be sure to cook or heat it to an internal temperature of at least 165F to kill off the bugs.Also, charred grilled chicken can contain some cancer-causing chemicals, such as heterocyclic amines, so limit your consumption of well-blackened chicken.

4. Turkey

This big bird never saw it coming. Domestic turkey is a relatively recent addition to the world’s protein menu, and it’s great for you. Turkey is generally a white meat (turkey breast), but it packs more flavor than chicken, and its dark meat can be downright gamy. Turkey meat is also relatively low in fat: one 4.9 oz (140 g) serving of skinless roasted turkey contains about 0.25 oz (7 g) of fat.

There’s a popular belief that turkey makes you sleepy, and it does, due to the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan within, but it’s not enough to knock you out. The sheer size of the average Thanksgiving feast, especially when combined with alcohol and a pleasant atmosphere, is more likely to influence your post-meal slumber.

5. Fish

A properly cooked hunk of fish can be as satisfying as a great steak. Plus, many fish (typically salmon and tuna) are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to decreased rates of heart disease. Circulation published a study that suggests lean, white fish, such as cod, don’t provide the same health benefits as fattier fish do. Another extensive EPIC study found that people who eat lots of fish are less likely to develop colon cancer than those who don’t. But be careful: Big fish like tuna can contain high levels of mercury, which is a poison to the human body.

So, how much fish can you eat and be safe? It depends. Avoid large fish that eat other fish — tuna, swordfish and shark — and stick to smaller fish, which tend to contain less mercury than bigger fish. Local levels of mercury vary; check with your nearby fish and game agency to see which fish contain high levels of mercury.

Everything in Moderation

It is absolutely true that you can have too much of a good thing. Moderate your overall intake of meat and fat, and you’ll stay healthy. As a general rule, many nutritionists suggest that your portion of meat should be about the size of your fist. It seems small, but it’s enough. And be sure to balance your diet with lots of fruits and veggies.

The Pork Predicament: A Lean or Fatty Protein Source?

Is Pork Really Bad for You?

Is pork really healthy if you have high cholesterol? It all depends on the cut you choose and how you cook it.

“Just like with beef or chicken, there are high-fat and lean cuts of pork,” says nutrition expert Lanah J. Brennan, RD, in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The protein food group includes foods with varied amounts of fat: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas. For adults who get less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, men should get about 6 ounces (oz) of protein every day, and women 5 oz, according to the USDA. The key is to get that protein from sources low in saturated fat for the best nutrition when you’re living with high cholesterol.

Saturated fat is fat that primarily comes from animal-based foods, like meat and dairy. It’s the type of fat that’s solid at room temperature, like butter, lard, and shortening. If you put some fatty leftovers in your refrigerator, what you see clumping at the surface is saturated fat. The risk of having too much saturated fat in the diet is that it’s linked to high cholesterol levels in the blood. This cholesterol may later clump in your arteries in the form of plaque, causing heart disease.

Pork and Cholesterol: Think Lean

If you choose pork as a protein source, the word to keep in mind is “lean,” which means less saturated fat.

“Pork is lean, compact, white meat if you pick the loin cut,” says Amanda Meadows, RD at the Methodist Hospital Weight Management Center in Houston. “A serving of pork loin with the fat trimmed off is about the same as eating an equivalent serving of chicken with the skin trimmed off,” says Meadows.

Pork tenderloin is another lean cut to look for. “It contains 3.5 grams (g) fat, and 1 g is saturated fat, in a 3 oz serving — that’s similar to a 3 oz chicken breast,” says Brennan. A pork chop has five times as much saturated fat. When you go shopping, it’s good to know that a center cut of pork is also lean meat.

“Ham is red-meat pork, but if you trim the fat, it’s also a lean cut,” says Meadows. Keep in mind that ham, like other processed meats, is still higher in sodium.

“One ounce of lean pork has about 45 calories, which is the same as 1 oz of chicken. Cutting off the fat helps. A 3 oz serving of roasted pork center loin has about 169 calories with the fat trimmed, but about 200 calories if you leave the fat on,” says Meadows.

Pork and High Cholesterol: What to Limit

Some cuts of pork, such as spareribs, can be as bad for you as any red meat when it comes to the fat content. “Pork spareribs are a high-fat cut — 25 g of fat in a 3 oz serving,” says Brennan. “Worse yet, out of those 25 g fat, 9 g are saturated fat.”

“Pork choices you really ought to limit or avoid include sausage, bacon, and ground pork,” says Meadows, adding, “Canadian bacon is leaner as long as you cut away the fat.”

Kitchen Cues for Healthier Pork Options

“Lean, white-meat pork is as healthy as chicken but not as healthy as fish,” Meadows points out. Current dietary recommendations are to eat fish as your protein source at least twice a week.

Try these heart-smart cooking rules when you choose pork:

  • Choose lean cuts not marbled with fat.
  • Cut any fat off the meat before cooking or eating.
  • Skim any saturated fat before reheating leftovers.
  • At a restaurant or at home, choose roasted, broiled, or grilled, not fried.
  • Avoid breading and frying — breading adds calories and soaks up fat.
  • Avoid barbecue sauce and pork gravy.

Trying to spice it up? Reach for herbs and vegetable ingredients when you’re doing the cooking. “To flavor pork, try calorie-free herbs and spices,” says Meadows. “Salsa is also a healthy flavoring choice.”

Pork can be the “other white meat” — if you follow these guidelines, you can still meet your main goal to avoid saturated fat when you have high cholesterol.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. That means skipping high-fat pork options, like sausage, bacon, and spareribs — and thinking lean.

You can get a great amount of nutrients from pork chops

Pork chops provide Many health benefits, including

1) One pork chop provides more than half of the daily protein needs of an adult person. In a raw pork chop, there are 35 grams of protein. Pork chop serves as a complete protein food as it contains all the essential amino acids (Arginine, Carnitine, Glutamine, Methionine, Ornithine and Taurine).

Pork Chops With Fat

2) Pork chops contain B vitamins, which play a vital role in energy production. Apart from this, B vitamins are also involved in the making of red blood cells and help to protect the cells from damage. Selenium found in pork chops helps to form antioxidants (a substance that inhibits oxidation), which protect the cells from the damaging.

3) A pork chop contains about 75 grams of cholesterol while a sirloin steak, contains 456 gm of cholesterol. Human needs a certain amount of cholesterol, and this cholesterol is used in the production of hormones and bile salts. Also, human liver produces about 1000 mg of cholesterol and so one does not need to take much cholesterol through the diet.

4) Generally, adult people need about 65 to 68 grams of fat every day. A certain amount of fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. A pork chop contains 7 to 9 grams of fat. Also, pork chops may help to bring down cholesterol levels in the blood as well as help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease because most of the fat in a pork chop is unsaturated fat.

Pork Chops Without Fat

5) A healthy amount of sodium consumption is also important to regulate the balance of fluids in the body as well as to help in the functioning of the central nervous system. A pork chop contains about 360 mg of sodium. In addition to this, a consumption of 2300 mg of sodium every day is suggested. People with heart problems or who are above 50 years age must limit sodium intake to 1500 mg. Intaking of sodium in big amount must be avoided as it can raise blood pressure levels as well as can elevate the risk of heart disease.

Usually, animal products contain saturated fat, which increases blood cholesterol levels. Also, saturated fat must make up less than 10% of your total calories. A pork chop contains about 2.4 grams of saturated fat.

When buying online pork meat in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai or in any other city of India, ensure that the meat is reddish pink. Avoid meat that is greenish-brown or dark red. Keep in mind that cooked pork chops may remain eatable for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

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Human beings don’t need to eat meat to be healthy. We can get all our protein and essential fatty acids from other sources, such as wild-caught, cold-water fish; free-range, omega-3 rich eggs; and tofu, beans and nuts. However, if you do eat red meat, I think less is better than more and that you’re much better off getting it from grass-fed, grass-finished cattle than from those raised on factory farms and fed grain (not to mention hormones and antibiotics). Grass-fed, grass-finished beef offers a far better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile, as well as vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid – all good for human health. Organic beef isn’t necessarily grass-finished. These cattle may be raised in pesticide-free pastures, but most of them are taken to feedlots and fed (organic) grain prior to slaughter.

Bison is a good, leaner alternative to beef. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), a three-ounce grass-fed bison burger has 124 calories and six grams of total fat. (A three-ounce lean hamburger has 182 calories, 85 of them – nine grams – from fat.) Bison meat is also relatively low in cholesterol (47 mg), is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and a good source of iron. Here, too, I recommend a grass-fed, grass-finished product. This meat is slightly lower in total fat, cholesterol and calories than meat from animals raised on grain. It is also higher in polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. Bison are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.

Ground turkey should be a healthy alternative to beef, but results of a Consumer Reports investigation published in June 2013 might sour you on this choice. The magazine reported that “more than half the packages of raw ground meat and patties tested positive for fecal bacteria. Some samples harbored other germs, including salmonella and staphylococcus aureus, two of the leading causes of foodborne illness in the U.S. Overall, 90 percent of the samples had one or more of the five bacteria for which we tested.” In addition, the magazine reported that almost all of the disease-causing organisms in the 257 samples “proved resistant to one or more of the antibiotics commonly used to fight them.”

Sadly, the Consumer Reports investigation also found that “ground turkey labeled ‘no antibiotics,’ ‘organic,’ or ‘raised without antibiotics’ was as likely to harbor bacteria as products without those claims.” The article explained that “even meat from organic birds can pick up bacteria during slaughter or processing. The good news is that bacteria on those products were much less likely to be antibiotic-resistant superbugs.”

In January, 2013, Consumer Reports found that pork chops and ground-pork samples from around the U.S. contained Yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium that can cause fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Some samples harbored other potentially harmful bacteria, including salmonella. The magazine also reported that some of the bacteria found in 198 samples “proved to be resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat people. The frequent use of low-dose antibiotics in pork farming may be accelerating the growth of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ that threaten human health.”

About one-fifth of the 240 pork products Consumer Reports analyzed in a separate test harbored low levels of ractopamine, a drug commonly approved for use in pigs raised for food in the U.S. but banned in the European Union, China, and Taiwan.

Given these findings, I would say that ground bison is your best bet.

Andrew Weil, M.D.


By Georgia Clark-Albert, Special to the BDN • March 14, 2011 2:41 pm

Quick, what comes to mind when you hear “the other white meat”? Well, pork of course. The slogan, which has been used since 1987, was originally designed to help pork compete with poultry; and it worked. It helped pork overcome an image that it was fatty and has helped increase the ways in which pork is used in addition to boosting sales for about a decade. Pork sales totaled about $117 per person in 2010. Pork is the third most popular meat behind chicken and beef in the U.S. market. Pork consumption averages about 50 pounds per person per year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

All good things must come to an end. The catchy advertising slogan that worked for pork for so many years is about to be replaced with “Pork: Be Inspired.” The National Pork Board will continue to use its “Pork. The Other White Meat” marketing campaign for consumers to continue to remind them about the nutritional value of pork, but the new “Be Inspired” marketing campaign is designed to enhance consumer preference for pork items. The goal of The National Pork Board is to increase pork sales by 10 percent by 2014 and it believes the campaign, aimed at getting existing pork consumers to think about incorporating more pork into their meal planning, will do this.

Nutritionally, how does pork compare to other meats for fat and calories? Many cuts of pork are as lean or leaner than chicken. Pork tenderloin, for example, is just as lean as skinless chicken breast and meets the government guidelines for “extra lean.” In total six cuts of pork meet the USDA guidelines for “lean,” with less than 10 grams of fat per serving. A 3-ounce serving of pork tenderloin is an excellent source of protein, thiamine, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin and a good source of riboflavin, potassium and zinc. Use cuts with the words “loin” or “round” in their names for the leanest meats, such as pork tenderloin or beef round. Remove excess fat from meat before cooking — it can cut total fat content per serving in half.

Thanks to changes in the way pigs are raised, it is no longer necessary to cook pork until it is dry, gray and chewy to prevent illnesses once associated with consuming undercooked pork. Use a meat thermometer to cook pork to 160 degrees. It will be moist and savory as well as safe to serve your family.

As with all foods, portion size is the key to keeping the calorie count of your meat serving down. A 3-ounce size serving of cooked meat is about the size and thickness of a deck of playing cards or about the size of the palm of a woman’s hand.

Fat and calorie content of lean meats per three-ounce serving

Meat Calories Total Fat (g)

Skinless chicken breast 139 3.1

Skinless chicken leg 162 7.1

Skinless chicken thigh 177 9.3

Pork tenderloin 120 3.0

Pork boneless top loin chop 173 5.2

Pork top loin roast 147 5.3

Pork center loin chop 153 6.2

Pork sirloin roast 173 8.0

Pork rib chop 158 7.1

Beef eye of round 141 4.0

Beef top round 169 4.3

Beef tip round 149 5.0

Beef top sirloin 162 8.0

Beef top loin 168 7.1

Beef tenderloin 175 8.1


Ingredients: 8 boneless pork chops (3/4-inch thick), 12 ounces balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Place chops in large, resealable bag, pour dressing over. Seal bag and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. Remove chops from marinade and pat dry. Discard remaining marinade. Grill chops directly over heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 160 degrees. Serve with brown rice, steamed peas and applesauce.

Nutrition facts per chop: 174 calories, 27g protein, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 210g sodium, 80mg. cholesterol, 6g carb

Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian who lives in Athens, Maine. Read more of her columns and post questions at or e-mail her at [email protected]

Why are chicken, fish and beans better for you than red meat?

In general, red meats (beef, pork and lamb) have more saturated (bad) fat than chicken, fish and vegetable proteins such as beans. Saturated and trans fats can raise your blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse.

The unsaturated fats in fish, such as salmon, actually have health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and some plant sources, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest and the most common type of stroke (ischemic).

There are many types of beans – pinto, kidney, garbanzo, soybeans, etc. – and they’re all good for you. Put lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas on the list, too! You can prepare them without saturated and trans fats for a healthy meal.

Tips for People Who Like Meat

  • It’s OK to eat meat as long as you limit the amount and choose healthier types.
  • One portion of meat is two to three ounces or about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat. Lean cuts usually contain the words “round,” “loin” or “sirloin” on the package.
  • Trim off as much fat as you can before cooking and pour off the melted fat after cooking.
  • Use healthier cooking methods: bake, broil, stew and roast.
  • Minimize processed red meats like bacon, ham, salami, sausages, hot dogs, beef jerky and deli slices.

Note: Eating a lot of meat is not a healthy way to lose weight, especially if you have heart disease.

How to Eat More Poultry, Fish and Beans

  • Breakfast
    • Add them to breakfast tacos, scrambled eggs or a vegetable omelet.
    • Replace bacon and sausage with low-sodium, nitrate-free turkey or veggie bacon.
  • Lunch
    • Slice up leftover chicken or turkey for sandwiches.
    • Have a bowl of bean or lentil soup with added veggies.
    • Eat a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread (swap out some of the mayo with ripe avocado).
    • Make a chicken salad with leftover baked or roasted chicken.
    • Have a seafood salad.
  • Dinner
    • Grill, bake or microwave chicken breasts. Remove skin before cooking.
    • Sprinkle fish fillets with lemon and salt-free seasonings and bake them.
    • Wrap a whole fish in foil with lemon and onion slices; then bake or grill.
    • Top your salad with beans, fish or chicken.
    • Add beans to a soup or casserole.
    • Make black bean burgers or garbanzo bean burgers from scratch.

Many people choose not to eat meat for various reasons, including health. You can get all the nutrients your body needs without eating meat. For people who don’t want to eat meat (or much meat), there are many healthy ways to get enough protein. A one-cup serving of cooked beans, peas, lentils or tofu can replace a 2-ounce serving of meat, poultry or fish. Two ounces of peanut butter counts as 1 ounce of meat.

AHA Recommendation

  • Choose nonfried fish, shellfish, poultry without the skin, and trimmed lean meats, no more than 5.5 ounces, cooked, per day.
  • Enjoy up to 8 ounces of nonfried fish (especially oily fish) each week, which may be divided over two 3.5- to 4-ounce servings.
  • Choose salt-free seasonings such as spices, herbs and other flavorings in cooking and at the table.
  • Select meat substitutes such as beans, peas, lentils or tofu in entrees, salads or soups.

Shopping Tips

  • Non-fried fish and shellfish such as shrimp, crab and lobster are lower in saturated fat and a healthy alternative to many cuts of meat.
  • Choose fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon. Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other environmental contaminants. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or nursing — and young children — should avoid eating potentially contaminated fish.
  • Choose cuts of meat that have the least amount of visible fat. Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime.”
  • Choose lean or extra lean ground beef (no more than 15% fat).
  • Choose poultry that has not been injected with fats or broths.

Preparation Tips

  • A 3-ounce cooked portion is about the size of a deck of cards. To help you judge serving sizes, a 3-ounce portion equals:
    • 1/2 of a chicken breast or a chicken leg with thigh (without skin)
    • 3/4 cup of flaked fish
    • 2 thin slices of lean roast beef (each slice 3″ x 3″ x 1/4″)
  • Trim all visible fat off of meats.
  • Instead of frying, prepare meats by baking, broiling, roasting, microwaving or stir-frying. Pour off the fat after browning.
  • Remove the skin and fat under the skin before cooking poultry pieces. (The exception is when roasting a whole chicken or turkey. Remove the skin before carving and serving the meat.)
  • Chill meat juices after cooking, so that you can easily skim off the hardened fat. Then you can add the juices to stews, soups and gravy.

Foods with high cholesterol to avoid and include

Aim to eat a diet that promotes low levels of bad cholesterol and high levels of good cholesterol. Fat intake affects this balance because fatty acids bind to liver cells and regulate the production of cholesterol.

Pay attention not only to quantities of fat in the diet, but also to which types are entering the body. Each form of fat influences cholesterol levels differently:

  • Saturated fats: These mostly occur in meat and dairy products. They instruct the liver to produce more bad cholesterol.
  • Unsaturated fats: These are more common in fish, plants, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetable oils. Certain unsaturated fats can help increase the rate at which the liver reabsorbs and breaks down bad cholesterol.
  • Trans fats: These are solidified vegetable oils. Manufacturers normally use an artificial process called hydrogenation to produce them. Fried food, baked goods, and packaged foods often contain trans fats.

While avoiding foods with high cholesterol content may be beneficial for some, the American Heart Association (AHA), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that the most effective dietary approach to cutting blood cholesterol is choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats over those that contain saturated or trans fats.

Trans fats

Trans fats not only increase levels of bad cholesterol, but they also lower levels of good cholesterol. For this reason, they are the most harmful fats.

A study paper that appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 344,696 participants for 4–10 years after they changed which types of fats they ate.

Share on PinterestProcessed food often contains harmful trans fats.

The participants who cut their saturated fat intake by 5 percent and replaced it with polyunsaturated fats had significantly fewer incidences of coronary illness or coronary-related death.

It is best to cut trans fats out of the diet completely. In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they no longer recognize partially hydrogenated oils, the major commercial source of trans fats, as safe because of their strong links to coronary heart disease.

In 2018, the U.S. will undergo a national ban on trans fats, and several cities have already banned them from use in restaurants.

While nationwide cardiovascular disease incidences have recently fallen, the results of a recent study that appears in JAMA Cardiology revealed an additional 6.2 percent decrease of heart attack and stroke in the New York counties where trans fats are banned.

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