Is Pork Belly Healthy? Key Reasons To Add Pork Belly To Your Diet

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The fatty, juiciest, and boneless cut from the belly of a pig is called pork belly. People love this cut mainly because of its succulent and rich flavors. Despite the mouth-watering flavors, some of us are still confused about whether pork belly is healthy or not. 

pork belly slices

Yes, pork belly is healthy as it has high protein and contains several vitamins and minerals that are essential for the human body. Pork belly also has a high-fat content and calories, but if you keep a check on the portion size of the meal, then it can even help in your weight loss journey. 

Eating pork belly occasionally will not affect your weight goals, and make sure that your body is infused with other crucial nutrients. Adding pork belly to your diet can be very beneficial, depending on your body’s requirements. 

Those who love eating pork belly but are worried about the fat and calories should join this conversation and learn all the folds of eating this meat cut. So, stick with it till the end, and I will share delicious information about pork belly with mouth-watering recipes only for you.

What Is Pork Belly?

crispy-pork-belly-

Pork belly is basically a boneless, fatty, and juiciest cut from the belly part of the pig. This meat cut has layers of skin and fats along with layers of tissues and muscles. It is the remaining portion of the meat after the loins and spare ribs are removed from the meat. 

The specialty of this cut of meat is in the flavors and nutrients. The succulent and rich flavors of pork belly are undeniably satisfying. This portion of the pig is most meaty in taste as compared to other cuts of the animal. They are generally uncured and sold in big slabs, which is why it is also called pork slabs. 

The fatty and juiciest part of the pig belly is often expensive because of tight supply. However, it is also a staple food in many parts of the world as it has terrific flavors and low cost as compared to other cuts of pig meat. 

Pork belly is usually prepared using a slow cooking method, which gives very tender and juicy meat. They are served in small portions so that one can enjoy the flavors without adding many calories. The origins of pork belly are speculated from China, and currently, it has become an integral part of many cuisines of the world. 

The pinkish color and thick texture of this cut of meat are very tender once cooked. The presence of a fat layer gives a melt-in-mouth experience. 

What Does Pork Belly Taste Like?

brined pork belly

Pork belly has a succulent and rich flavor. Apart from this, the savory notes with a hint of sweetness in pork belly are to die for. The flavors of pork belly may vary depending on the cooking type, but without any doubt, you will enjoy the salty, meaty, and hearty flavors. You also get to enjoy the delightful umami flavors after the pork belly is cured and smoked. 

Some may find the flavors of pork belly similar to pork loin. However, the thick layer of fat makes sure that the flavors really stand out and are irresistible. The versatility in flavor is the main attraction of pork belly. With the crispy skin, it is meaty and has a melt-in-the-mouth feature. 

As per Eat Delights, pork belly has a rich, buttery flavor as soon as the fatty layers break down. If you think that pork belly may have a similar taste to bacon, then you are very wrong. Dispute the fact that bacon is a cit from the belly part of the meat; pork belly and bacon have totally different flavors and textures. To enjoy the best of the flavors of pork belly, you can prepare it in different styles like : 

  • slow-roasting
  • oven-roasting
  • braising
  • stewing
  • deep-frying
  • grilling
  • smoking
  • Pan-searing
  • Slow – cooking

Is Pork Belly Healthy For You?

tuscan-roast-pork-belly

Yes, pork belly is healthy for you. Pork belly is infused with a richness of protein and essential vitamins & minerals, so the addition of pork belly is very beneficial. Even the high content of fat is considered to be healthy and very helpful in reducing belly fat, as per US Wellness Meat

Every 4 ounces of pork belly contains 585 kcal calories, 11 g of protein, and 60 g of fats. The pork belly certainly has a high-calorie count and fat content, but it has very important nutrients like zinc, iron, and copper and is very low in sodium content. 

Pork Belly Nutritional Values

Calories585 Kcal
Protein11 g
Total Fat60 g
Saturated Fat22 g
Sodium36.2 mg

After evaluating all the different nutrients and their content, it is safe to say that pork belly is healthy. 

Is Pork Belly Good For Weight Loss?

Yes, pork belly is good for weight loss. If you are having a balanced diet meal, pork belly will not have any impact on weight. Even though pork belly has a high-fat content, you can be relieved after knowing that these fats are good. 

If you are consuming pork belly in small quantities, then you can enjoy the delightful flavors without adding many calories. It was mentioned in an article by US Wellness Meats that pork belly has monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated Fats help reduce belly fat, boost good cholesterol, and guard against cancer. It is also essential to note that the other half of fat is saturated fats. 

Saturated fats are also healthy if they are consumed in controlled portion sizes. Millennial Hawk mentioned that the fat in pork belly helps improve satiety, leading to lower food intake. High fat suppresses the appetite and lowers the hunger level. Maybe pork belly is considered very least when it comes to weight loss, but for sure, you won’t have to worry much if you have smaller portions of pork belly in your diet. 

Is Pork Belly High In Cholesterol?

No, pork belly is not high in cholesterol. Despite the fact that pork belly has high fat content, pork belly is relatively low in cholesterol. The presence of monounsaturated fats helps in increasing good cholesterol in the body. 

 Health Benefits Of Pork Belly

tied-pork-belly-

1. Muscle Maintenance

The presence of protein in pork belly will make sure that there is muscle growth and helps in maintaining the same. As proteins in pork are completely amino acids, they are responsible for creating new muscles. 

2. Increased Muscle Performance

As already mentioned, pork belly has amino acids that help in the formation of a compound called carnosine. This compound is very important for the functioning of muscles. It is also known for lowering fatigue and higher muscle performance.

3. It may Help Cells Grow And Function

The richness of vitamins, especially B Vitamins, helps convert food into energy. The formation of DNA, hormones, and red blood cells is very important, and therefore, the vitamins help the brain and nervous system in doing so. 

4. May Help Lose Weight

This is very evident that despite high-fat content, pork belly helps in weight loss. The fat helps in reducing the hunger signals and lowers the food intake. Pork belly is a perfect fit for a ketogenic diet. 

Cons Of Eating Pork Belly

pork belly

1. May Increase The Risk Of Heart Disease

If the pork belly is highly processed, then the sodium content rises and increases the risk of heart disease. The highly saturated pork belly is known for heart disease, so if you are at a heart risk, it is advised not to consume highly processed and saturated pork belly. 

2. May Increase The Risk Of Foodborne Illness

If the pork belly is consumed raw or is not evenly cooked, then it can cause foodborne illness. The presence of some parasites in pork belly can cause serious harm to the body.

3. May Increase The Risk Of Cancer

The consumption of pork belly may lead to cancer. This is because the process of cooking the pork mainly includes grilling and smoking. This can lead to cancer and hence is not considered to be healthy. 

 How Is Pork Belly Compared To Other Parts Of The Pork?

pork belly

Pork belly is considered to be the most versatile cut of the animal. The belly of the pig has the most fat contents as compared to other parts like pork loin. Also, pork belly is an uncured and unsmoked version of bacon. It is also essential to note that the upper side of the animal is leaner than the pork belly. The variation in nutrients is very clear, and if you want detailed information, then have a look at the comparison table for more clarity. 

Nutrients Pork BellyBaconPork Loin
Calories 585 kcal 444 kcal188 kcal
Protein10.6 g15.524.1
Calcium 5.65 mg6.78 mg7.91
Sodium36.2 mg849 mg53.1 mg
Cholesterol81.4 mg74.6 mg72.3 mg
Every 4 ounces of meat (113 g)

Is Pork Belly Healthier Than Bacon?

pork belly roasted

Yes, pork belly is healthier than bacon. Without any doubt, pork belly and bacon have almost the same fat content. However, bacon is more cured and processed, which increases the sodium content. Therefore, this makes bacon more unhealthy when compared with pork belly. 

 Is Pork Belly Healthier Than Steak?

pork belly glazed

In comparison to pork belly and steak, the content of fat in steak is lower, which makes it better and healthier. Steak is a lean cut of animal, whereas pork belly has a thick layer of fat running throughout the meat. 

Should You Eat The Fatty Parts Of The Pork Belly?

pork belly burnt

Yes, you should eat the fatty parts of the pork belly. The main reason behind consuming pork belly is to intake a richness of fat content. People who follow a ketogenic diet are advised to consume good fats, and pork belly fits the picture perfectly. 

One Quora user mentioned that he has never seen anyone leaving fat and eating pork belly. Also, the fatty part of the pork belly is the most flavorful and succulent, and this is why you should definitely eat the fatty parts of the pork belly. 

Should You Add Pork Belly To Your Diet?

pork belly bbq

Yes, you should add pork belly to your diet if you are planning to increase fat content in your body. Pork belly is known for essential vitamins and minerals that help in the functioning of the body. In your perfect balanced diet, you can easily add pork belly and make sure that you also get high protein. It is also proven that the fat present in the pork belly is great if consumed in moderation. 

Healthy Pork Belly Recipes

Crispy-Roasted-Pork-Belly

Eating pork belly is super delicious and irresistible. As already mentioned, it can be healthy, too, if you know the right pork belly recipe. I have listed the best five pork belly recipes that are must-try. 

1. Sweet Spicy Keto Pork Belly

If you are a fan of sweet and savory dishes, then this sweet, spicy keto pork belly is perfect for you. The name of the recipe itself mentions keto friendliness, meaning it is super healthy. Follow this recipe if you want a perfectly tender pork belly that is not too dry and very juicy with perfect crunch. It is the perfect meal for a diabetic diet and can be served as an appetizer and even as a complete meal if paired with other food items. 

2. Air Fryer Pork Belly Tacos

We all love Mexican tacos, but variation in flavors is much needed. Try this pork belly tacos, which are air-fried, and I am sure you will fall in love with the dish. This recipe is healthy as it is air-fried and contains all the rich flavors of pork belly. Ready within 30 minutes, you can enjoy the crispy and tender pork belly tucked perfectly in tacos. 

3. Pork Belly with Plum

With the Asian twist in pork belly, this recipe is very useful. The sticky plum sauce combined with meaty and fatty pork belly delivers irresistible tastes and flavors. I am sure you will love the subtle sweetness and tanginess of plum with the tender, meaty, and juicy pork belly. It is the perfect snack to enjoy with your friends and family. 

4. Pork Belly Sandwich 

Sandwiches are one of the most versatile dishes as they can be customized in every other way. If you are someone like me when it comes to experimenting with food, then try this pork belly sandwich. Try this recipe, and you will forget every other sandwich recipe. Apart from tender and juicy pork belly, this recipe calls for crispy lettuce, sweet tomatoes, mayonnaise, and avocados. It is a perfect refreshment or snack dish to enjoy with some drinks. 

5. Pork Belly Salads

If you are bored with your regular salad recipes, then you must try pork belly salads. First of all, it is super healthy and rich in nutrients. Second of all, the flavors are commendable—a perfect balance of crunchy veggies and melt-in-mouth pork belly. The star ingredient is obviously the peppery dressing made with mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, pepper, and salt. The addition of walnuts adds the perfect amount of crunch to the salad and gives you a perfect bite every time. 

Conclusion

Finally, we are at the end of this juicy and tender conversation. I hope I was able to clear all the ifs and buts related to pork belly. Pork belly is considered to be very unhealthy, but on the contrary, it is very great for building muscles and also helpful in losing weight. Without any doubt, the flavors of pork belly are rich, meaty, and possess a great umami flavor. The subtle notes of sweetness and salty flavors make pork belly irresistible.

I am sure that now, whenever you have pork belly for a meal, you will enjoy the flavors without worrying about the fat and calorie intake. I will be back with some more food-related conversations and solve your problems. Until then, make some pork meat and enjoy the tender flavors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pork belly? 

Pork belly is basically a boneless, fatty, and juiciest cut from the belly part of the pig. This meat cut has layers of skin and fats along with layers of tissues and muscles. Basically, it is the remaining portion of the meat after the loins and spare ribs are removed from the meat. 

Is Pork Belly healthy? 

Yes, pork belly is healthy for you. As we already have discussed, pork belly is infused with a richness of protein and essential vitamins & minerals, so the addition of pork belly is very beneficial. Even the high content of fat is considered to be healthy and very helpful in reducing belly fat. 

Is Pork Belly Good For Weight Loss?

Yes, pork belly is good for weight loss. Despite the fact that pork belly has high fat content, you can be relieved after knowing that these fats are the good ones. 

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