Leanest Cuts of Pork
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:
- boneless loin roast with 147 calories and 5.3 grams of fat
- boneless loin chops with 153 calories and 6.2 grams of fat
- boneless ham (extra lean) with 123 calories and 4.7 grams of fat
- A 2-ounce serving of Canadian-style bacon contains 86 calories and 3.9 grams of fat
Vitamins and Minerals in Pork
Daily Values 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!
Why It's Good For You
Nutrient % Daily Value (DV)*
- 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.
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 or leaner than 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 skinless chicken thigh, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 (g); Saturated Fat (g); Cholesterol (mg)
- Skinless chicken breast*-- 140; 3.1; 0.9; 73
- Skinless chicken leg*-- 162; 7.1; 2.0; 80
- Skinless chicken thigh* -- 178; 9.3; 2.6; 8
LEAN CUTS OF PORK
- 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
LEAN CUTS OF BEEF
- 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
- 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