3 Tips for Choosing Heart Healthy Pork

Monica Stewart, MS, RD

Monica Stewart, MS, RD

Tyson Foods, Inc.

A Google search for “heart healthy foods” produces thousands of food lists including fruits and vegetables like berries, avocados, leafy greens and grapes, along with other foods like walnuts, olive oil and whole grains. While a heart healthy diet is an important factor in lowering the risk of heart disease, knowing exactly what foods to choose can sometimes be a challenge. 

When I asked my husband “What comes to mind when you think of heart healthy foods?” He responded without hesitation, “Fruits and vegetables.”  For fun, I asked my nine-year-old daughter the same question. Her response was similar, “Apples and bananas.” And in true kid fashion, followed that with a question. “Mom, is protein healthy?”

Based on my fun family poll and quick Google search, I think it’s safe to assume most people know that fruits and vegetables are heart healthy but like my nine-year-old points out, when it comes to protein, including pork, the answers aren’t so obvious.

Heart healthy foods are lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. When you’re at the meat case, try these three tips to help you shop smarter:

 

  1. Focus on extra lean meats. Extra lean meats, including pork, can fit into a heart healthy diet.  The key is knowing which cuts are extra lean. These contain less than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams of product and per labeled serving size*1.  For pork, this includes boneless pork sirloin roast and pork tenderloin.
  2. Watch out for sodium content. Single ingredient meats with no solution added will offer the lowest sodium value. Read through the ingredient statement on the package and compare sodium content on the nutrition facts panel to help you choose a protein with a responsible sodium content. Aim for less than 360 mg per serving.
  3. Look for the American Heart Association Heart Check certification on packages. This tip takes all the guesswork out because products bearing this claim must meet specific nutrition criteria that includes maximum values for saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium2. The Chairman’s Reserve® Prime Pork tenderloin is heart healthy certified, making it a great choice that ensures a heart healthy protein on your plate.

Remember to choose a variety of foods from all food groups. You can find heart healthy recipes for pork from the American Heart Association. A thoughtful portion of fully cooked lean meat is three ounces, which is about the size of the palm of your hand.  When preparing your meal, use your plate as a guide and make half your plate fruits and vegetables, while leaving the other half for extra lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

* Labeled serving size is determined by the reference amount, which reflects the amount of food customarily consumed per eating occasion.

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