Leanest Cuts of Pork

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The cuts below meet the guidelines for “lean” (less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat and 95 mg cholesterol) with pork tenderloin meeting the guidelines for “extra lean” (less than 5 g fat, 2 grams of sat fat and 95 mg cholesterol)

The tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork – a 3-ounce serving contains 120 calories and 2.98 grams of total fat, as lean as a skinless chicken breast. Other lean cuts (based on a 3-ounce cooked serving) include New York roast (pork boneless top loin roast) with 147 calories and 5.3 grams of fat; New York chop (pork boneless top loin chop) with 147 calories and 5.2 grams of fat, and boneless ham (extra lean) with 104 calories and 3.6 grams of fat. A 2-ounce serving of Canadian-style bacon contains 86 calories and 3.9 grams of fat.

Pork & Health

The Power of Pork for Healthy Eating

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines state getting regular exercise and eating a variety of foods – especially lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products – are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to lean protein, pork is an excellent choice!

Leaner than Ever

Recent USDA research reveals that six of the most common cuts of pork are 16% leaner and contain 27% less saturated fat than they did 20 years ago. As a lean protein option, pork can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

Protein Power

A Purdue University weight loss study found that women who cut calories but included more protein, including six ounces of lean pork per day, kept more muscle mass while losing weight than women who consumed the same amount of calories but less protein. Consuming a higher-protein diet also helped retain a sense of satiety or fullness after meals. These findings are supported by additional studies.

Dieters trying to stick to their diets may want to look no further than lean protein, according to two studies published in the prestigious journal Obesity. Including protein, such as lean pork, in three daily meals could reduce late-night desires to eat, increase feelings of fullness, and decrease distracting thoughts about food, according to the research. Researchers at Purdue University conducted two studies of overweight and obese men eating either a normal protein diet (14% of total calories from protein), or a higher protein diet (25% of total calories from protein – the additional protein mostly from lean pork and eggs), with the protein equally divided between three or six meals per day. Calories and fat did not differ between the two diets. The researchers looked at short-term and longer term effects of the two protein levels and in both studies, the higher protein diets were associated with greater feelings of fullness during weight loss, and in the longer term study, particularly decreased late-night desires to eat – key findings that could ultimately reduce calorie intake, and affect weight loss success, according to the researchers. In the latest study, 27 men followed a calorie restricted diet for 12 weeks, while the other study looked at short-term effects of protein on hunger/appetite in 13 men fed controlled meals on four separate days. The full report can be found at

Nutrient Rich

Pork packs nutrients in every lean serving. A 3-ounce portion of pork tenderloin, for example, is an “excellent” source of protein, thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, and a “good” source of potassium, riboflavin and zinc, yet contributes only 6 percent of calories to a 2,000 calorie diet. Fresh pork is naturally low in sodium.


How Pork Compares to Other Meats

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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. Many cuts of pork are as lean as chicken and meet the government guidelines for “lean” or “extra lean.” Any cuts from the loin – like pork chops and pork roast – are leaner than a skinless chicken thigh, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Pork steaks or roasts from the leg (“fresh ham”) are also lean choices.