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Pork CRC: Pork on a Health Roll

by 5m Editor
1 June 2011, at 9:24am

AUSTRALIA - Potential health benefits offered by pork’s high protein: energy ratio and its low fat content on cardiometabolic health, weight loss and weight management and control of Type 2 diabetes, has now been demonstrated.


Pork CRC Program Three Manager, Heather Channon of APL, with Nutrition Society of Australia President, Professor Manohar Garg and Jennifer McArthur of The University of Sydney at the 34th annual scientific meeting of the Nutrition Society of Australia. Five Pork CRC supported researchers presented ground breaking research under the collective banner ‘There’s Something About Pork’.

Pork has also been shown to be similar to other meats in its satiating ability (or the feeling of fullness after a meal) and may have a beneficial role on the health and well being of young women. Australia’s pork industry, with integral funding from the Pork CRC and APL, has supported several research studies by some of Australia’s most highly regarded human nutritionists.

Globally, little information about the benefits of consuming fresh lean pork has been available, until now. According to APL’s Heather Channon, who managers the Pork CRC’s Program 3 (‘Enhancing capacity to deliver nutrients that promote health and well-being through pork’) research outcomes include:

  • Regular consumption of lean fresh pork may improve body composition without adversely affecting risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.Overweight men and women, who ate less than one pork meal per week, were either provided with 1050g/wk and 750g/wk, respectively, of lean fresh cuts of pork (steak, sausages, diced, minced and stir fry) to incorporate into their diet for six months. Improvements in weight, body mass index, waist circumference and body composition occurred after only three months in people on the high pork diet, compared to those eating their normal diet. The modest reduction in weight was due to loss of fat mass from the abdominal region. These small improvements in body composition were achieved without changing energy or protein intake.

  • A follow-up study is now being conducted in overweight and obese men and women to compare the effect of regular consumption of lean pork on body composition, with chicken and beef. This study will show if there is any difference between consuming lean pork, chicken or beef on body composition measurements. This project will be completed in January 2012.

  • Low thiamine levels, associated with microvascular problems, have been reported in people with Type 2 diabetes. As pork is naturally high in thiamine (a 150g serve of pork provides 136% of the RDI), the inclusion of Australian pork in a high protein, low carbohydrate, low fat, energy restricted diet may be a way of improving thiamine status in overweight/obese people with Type 2 diabetes. This was explored in a dietary study comparing the effect of a high protein, high pork diet or high carbohydrate diet with or without resistance exercise in overweight/obese people with Type 2 diabetes. Thiamine status was improved in people on the high protein, high pork diet compared to those on the high carbohydrate diet. A high protein, high pork diet, combined with resistance exercise, also improved weight loss and body composition compared to a high carbohydrate diet. Lean pork was shown to be a valuable source of protein when included in high protein diets for weight management in Type 2 diabetes.
  • Consumption of a high protein diet can increase satiety, but little information exists for a potential satiating effect of pork. Outcomes from our research on satiety demonstrated that pork can be positioned equally with beef and chicken in its effect on satiety and release of appetite-related intestinal hormones and insulin.

  • Consumption of pork, including a range of lean pork cuts, mince and sausages, for 12 weeks by young women was shown to maintain haemoglobin levels to the same extent as low dose iron supplementation and also enhanced the feeling of wellbeing. More work is now being planned by the Australian pork industry to provide scientific evidence on the health benefits of consuming fresh Australian pork to consumers and health professionals.

Pork Facts

  • Pork has the highest protein: energy ratio of all meats.
  • Pork is the most consumed meat in the world.
  • The Australian Pork Nutritional Survey in 2006 showed that lean, trimmed pork is as lean as skinless chicken breast and has half the fat of red meat.
  • Pork is a source of essential vitamins, including Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, thiamine and niacin and minerals, including zinc, selenium and magnesium.
  • Trimmed lean pork is a healthy, tasty variation from chicken, beef or lamb in recipes.
  • Pork blends perfectly with a huge range of flavours and cooking styles, making it a versatile meat choice.
  • There’s no need to over-cook pork.