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  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

Pork Shoulder, Pork Loin, and Pork Leg Are Excellent Nutrient Sources

A photo of pork shoulder, an excellent source of nutrients
Pork shoulder is a cut of meat that serves as a powerhouse of nutrition. Photo courtesy of National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa.

Under the guidance of Dr. Nicholas Gabler, Professor of Swine Nutrition at Iowa State University, Mitch Nisley, Ph.D. student at Iowa State University, summarized this peer-reviewed journal article by S.M. van Heerden and M.F. Smith. The summarized article delves into how different cuts of pork can serve as excellent sources of nutrients in the human diet.

Major Findings

Pork is a nutrient-rich food source and can comprise many different cuts of meat. These researchers found pork shoulder, loin, and leg to be high-protein and low-fat meat cuts, making them favorable dietary choices for individuals and families. Additionally, the study uncovered that pork stands out favorably in comparison to other meats and poultry, particularly in terms of fat, energy, and cholesterol content.


However, variations in micronutrient content between raw and cooked pork cuts exist, with cooking affecting several nutrients such as moisture, protein, fat, and micronutrient values. Despite these changes, pork remains a valuable dietary source of essential nutrients, including vitamin B3, potassium, calcium, and zinc. The researchers concluded that leg and loin pork cuts were considered as lean or leaner than chicken.


Why It Matters

This research offers crucial insights into the nutritional content of pork and its role in a nutritious diet. Alongside USDA tables, this peer-reviewed study proves valuable for dietitians, medical professionals, and consumers who are involved in discussions on incorporating pork into diets.


While raw cut values establish a baseline for nutrient composition, the cooked values offer practical information on actual consumption, making it more user-friendly for consumers. Highlighting the nutritional benefits, this research emphasizes pork's role as a wholesome dietary staple for those who consume it.


How the Research Was Conducted

Three samples were randomly taken from pig carcasses in the production area of a primary harvest plant, each consisting of cuts from the shoulder, leg, and loin. Nutrient content analysis was conducted on both raw and cooked samples, calculating nutrient density for protein, iron, zinc, specific vitamins, and fatty acids.

To understand the results better, the different nutritional aspects of the pork were measured and analyzed. The focus was on the main effects of the cuts (like shoulder, loin, and leg), how the samples were treated (whether they were raw or cooked), and how these factors worked together.


Learn More

Read the full peer-reviewed journal article to learn more about the nutritional aspects of various pork cuts.

Pork Shoulder, Pork Loin, and Pork Leg Are Excellent Nutrient Sources
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