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Pork & Cholesterol

By Beth Greenwood

Pork is the meat of choice in much of the world. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that in 2009, Americans ate an average of 49.6 pounds of pork per person. Pork is a versatile meat and lends itself to a number of cooking methods and dishes. Like all meats, it contains cholesterol, but the amount depends upon a number of factors.

Cuts and Cooking Methods

Cholesterol is one of the components of animal fat. Different cuts of pork have more or less fat, which can affect cholesterol content. Lean cuts, for example, include the tenderloin and loin chop, according to the American Heart Association. You can also reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol by trimming visible fat before you cook the meat and by choosing a cooking method such as broiling rather than pan-frying. If you need to brown a meat for a dish, the AHA suggests you cook it under the broiler rather than in a pan.

Pork Tenderloin

Cholesterol in pork is measured in milligrams and the standard serving size is 3 ounces of meat. Although trimming visible fat from most pieces of meat can often reduce the amount of cholesterol, that’s not the case with pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin that contains separable lean and fat or only the separable lean has 62 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rib Chops

Rib chops can contain even less cholesterol than tenderloin, but it depends on how you cook them, according to the USDA. A 3-ounce, broiled bone-in center rib chop with separable lean meat contains only 56 milligrams of cholesterol. The same size broiled rib chop that includes both separable lean and fat has 57 milligrams of cholesterol. A 3-ounce, pan-fried center rib chop with both separable lean and fat, however, is much higher in cholesterol, at 66 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

Bacon and Sausage

Certain cuts of pork, such as bacon and sausage, are much higher in cholesterol, primarily because they contain more fat. Although 3 ounces of a broiled pork rib chop, for example, contains 56 milligrams of cholesterol, the same size serving of bacon, even when baked, contains 91 milligrams. Surprisingly, 3 ounces of pan-fried bacon has slightly less cholesterol than baked bacon, at 84 milligrams. Sausage that has been pan-fried contains 73 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving, which is a little more than three links.

Cholesterol and Your Diet

If you are concerned about cholesterol in your diet, you can try several strategies. Don't stop eating pork entirely, because it contains valuable nutrients your body needs. Choose less fatty cuts of pork and limit cuts such as sausage and bacon to an occasional treat rather, than as an everyday meal. Cook by broiling or grilling rather than pan-frying and drain any accumulated fat. Trim any visible fat and keep your serving size to the recommended 3-ounce portion.

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