Learn more about why pork has gained a reputation as a white meat. See how pork compares nutritionally to other meats. Also, find your guide to the leanest cuts of pork and see how pork producers have responded to consumers’ demands for leaner pork.

Compare Pork

How does pork compare to other meats for fat, calories and cholesterol? Pork today compares favorably for fat, calories and cholesterol with many other meats and poultry. While providing a greater amount of vitamins and minerals, 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 pork cuts meet the USDA guidelines for “lean,” with less than 10 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Any cuts from the loin — like pork chops and pork roast — are leaner than skinless chicken thigh, according to USDA data. Pork steaks or roasts from the leg (“fresh ham”) are also lean choices.


Serving Sizes and Nutritional Profiles of Lean Meats

3-ounce cooked serving: Calories Total Fat
Fat (g)
Skinless chicken breast* 139 3.1 0.9 73
Skinless chicken leg* 162 7.1 2.0 80
Skinless chicken thigh* 177 9.3 2.6 81
Pork Tenderloin* 120 3.0 1.0 62
Pork boneless top loin chop** 173 5.2 1.8 61
Pork top loin roast* 147 5.3 1.6 68
Pork center loin chop** 153 6.2 1.8 72
Pork sirloin roast* 173 8.0 2.4 76
Pork rib chop** 158 7.1 2.2 56
Beef eye of round * 141 4.0 1.5 59
Beef top round*** 169 4.3 1.5 76
Beef tip round* 149 5.0 1.8 69
Beef top sirloin** 162 8 2.2 76
Beef top loin** 168 7.1 2.7 65
Beef tenderloin** 175 8.1 3.0 71
FISH (*dry heat,**moist heat)
Cod* 89 0.7 0.1 40
Flounder* 99 1.3 0.3 58
Halibut* 119 2.5 0.4 35
Orange Roughy* 75 0.8 0.0 22
Salmon* 175 11.0 2.1 54
Shrimp** 84 0.9 0.2 166

* Roasted, ** Broiled, ***Braised
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database Release 18 or the 2006 Revised USDA Nutrient Data Set for Fresh Pork.

How much fat should I be eating?

For your good health, the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming 20-35% of calories as fat and less than 10% of calories as saturated fat by selecting foods that are lean or low-fat. The guidelines for cholesterol are no more than 300 milligrams per day. Pork easily fits into a balanced eating plan as suggested by the Dietary Guidelines. Lean pork not only provides a host of vitamins and minerals, but has fat and saturated fat levels equivalent to skinless chicken.


Fat Intake Guidelines

 Calories Total Fat (20 – 35% of calories) Saturated Fat (10% of calories)
1,600 (many sedentary women) 36-62 grams 17 grams
2,200 (active women, many sedentary men) 49-86 grams 24 grams
2,800 (many active men, some very active women) 62-109 grams 31 grams

Can I cut fat and still keep great taste?

Preparing healthy meals that feature pork starts at the supermarket and ends at the table. The following checklist will help you achieve the results you want:Get a lean start

  • Use cuts with the words “loin” or “round” in their name for the leanest meats, such as pork tenderloin or loin chop.
  • Cuts with minimal visible fat are the leanest.

Develop an eye for size

  • Portion control is key to reaching and maintaining a healthful weight.
  • Follow the MyPyramid guidelines and eat 5 to 7 ounces (for adults) from the meat group each day, depending on your calorie needs.
  • A 3-ounce serving of trimmed, cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards.

Skim and trim

  • Remove excess fat prior to cooking – it can cut total fat content per serving in half.
  • Skim fat from pan juices after pan-broiling.

Cook it light

  • Use low-fat cooking methods, like grilling, broiling, stir-frying and pan-broiling to maximize flavor while keeping added fat to a minimum.
  • Broil, grill or roast on a rack, so natural fat from meat drips away.
  • Cook thin cuts of meat quickly, with little or no fat, by pan-broiling or “dry sautéing” in a non-stick skillet with a little juice or broth.
  • Add stock, wine or fruit juice to the skillet after meat is removed; heat and stir; then use as a low-fat sauce or glaze.
  • Stir-fry with vegetable cooking spray or a small amount of flavored oil.
  • Marinate for flavor and juiciness, with juice, wine-flavored vinegar or fat-free dressing instead of oil-based marinades.

Spice for life

  • Season meats with herbs and spices (other than salt) to boost flavor and cut back on fat and salt at the same time. Rub herbs and spices onto pork before grilling, broiling or roasting.
  • Experiment with different seasonings to discover exciting new ways to enjoy healthful eating.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H flavorful, higher-fat ingredients

  • Use favorite foods like sharp cheeses and herb-flavored oils to flavor your dishes, but cut the amount in half.
  • Use low-fat cheeses or whipped or reduced-fat butter.

Lighten-up on the ladle

  • To get the most benefit from the vegetables you’re eating, use less of a regular salad dressing, or use a fat-free variety or herb-flavored vinegar instead.
  • Choose cream-based sauces and gravies less often than sauces made with skim milk or fat-free broth.

Did you know that pork is an “excellent” source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus and protein and a “good” source of zinc and potassium? These nutrients are important to our health. Read below to learn how these nutrients impact your health and the percent Daily Values that are listed on food labels. They tell us how much of various nutrients we should consume each day. The following information is based on a 3-ounce serving of pork. As you can see, these key nutrients make pork a nutrient-dense food!

Vitamins and Minerals in Pork

Nutrient % Daily Value (DV)* Why It’s Good For You
Iron 5% Getting enough iron is a problem for some women, especially women of child-bearing age. Heme iron (found in meat) is absorbed more readily than nonheme iron (found in plant-based foods). Thus, anyone who avoids meat without the help of their health professional may increase their risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
Magnesium 6% Important for the normal function of many enzymes (catalysts for the body’s chemical reactors), glucose and muscle action.
Phosphorous 20% Strengthens bones and generates energy in cells.
Potassium 11% This mineral, also known as an electrolyte, plays a major role in water balance and helps maintain normal blood pressure.
Zinc 14% A component of more than 70 enzymes, zinc is a key player in energy metabolism and the immune system.
Thiamin 54% Without this key vitamin, metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat would be significantly compromised. Animal protein is one of the best sources of this nutrient, and among the choices, pork is tops.
Riboflavin 19% Next to milk, there are few foods that have as much riboflavin per serving as pork. Riboflavin has an important role in the release of energy from foods.
Niacin 37% Important for the normal function of many enzymes in the body and involved in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids.
Vitamin B12 8% Helps build red blood cells and metabolize carbohydrates and fats.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 37% Important for the normal function of enzymes and co-enzymes, which are needed to metabolize protein, carbohydrates and fats. Plus, it plays a critical role in the regulation of glycogen (stored carbohydrates) metabolism.

*Based on 2,000 calorie meal plan.