The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans released this month by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services offer up a smorgasbord of meat cuts consumers can select to include as part of a healthy diet.
At least seven cuts of pork currently meet USDA’s guidelines for “lean” cuts - containing less than 10 grams of fat - including pork tenderloin, sirloin pork chop, sirloin pork roast, New York pork chop, porterhouse pork chop, ribeye pork chop and pork loin roast.
In fact, pork sirloin roast and tenderloin also meet the criteria for the American Heart Association’s Heart Checkmark.
Meanwhile, lean cuts of beef include eye of round, top round, tip round, top sirloin, tenderloin and top loin, while lean chicken includes the skinless breast, leg and thigh cuts.
“The guidelines reaffirm the role of lean pork in a healthy diet and are consistent with the recommendation to include a variety of nutrient-dense proteins,” the National Pork Board (NPB) noted in response to the latest set of dietary guidelines, updated every five years.
However, research suggests many U.S. consumers remain unaware of the benefits pork contributes toward a healthy diet, according to NPB. Some may be surprised to learn today’s pork is about 16% leaner and 27% lower in saturated fat compared to 30 years ago.
“While fresh pork is respected by the scientific community as a nutritious source of lean protein, it continues to lag behind other proteins when it comes to consumer perceptions of being ‘good for me and my family,” according to the ongoing Checkoff-funded At Home Meat Tracker.
For instance, did you know pork is naturally low in sodium and a 3-ounce serving is an excellent source of thiamin, selenium, protein, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin and potassium?
In response, NPB is updating its approach to human nutrition research and building a strategic pathway for pork nutrition that capitalizes on the latest research and opportunities to help evolve perceptions for pork in a healthy diet.
One example includes the Fresh Start Wellness Challenge, from Jan. 11-Feb. 7, which people can participate in to learn more about how pork can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eligible participants can win free groceries for a year. Check out pork.org/fresh-start-wellness-challenge for more information.