What Is Pork Belly And Is It Good For You?

Pork belly is the term used for boneless pig belly meat cuts. These cuts of meat are very popular in European and American cuisine, but the Asian cuisine is where you will see them even more often. This meat is extremely fatty and extremely powerful. The nutritional value of it is not so great, as there are quite a few negatives and not that many positives to it. Yet, such meat is usually eaten for the taste, not for keeping a healthy diet and in moderation, it is fine to eat.

When looking at what is pork belly, we need to first find out what kind of a nutrition breakdown it has. When you say pork I say fat. That is what normally comes to mind when people mention pork. Most meats are fat, but pork excels in that area. This is why pork is usually a food to stay away from on a regular basis and only eat occasionally and in limited dosage. One hundred grams of pork belly has an astounding 518 calories. Now if you are on a normal adult 2000 calorie diet, this is more than a quarter of your total daily intake. If you consider that you will probably eat the meat along with some carbs like potatoes or, at least, bread and some kind of a dressing plus salad, your meal may come up to 700-800 calories, which is really a lot for a single meal of only 100 grams of meat.

Pork Belly Nutrition

Meat is usually rich in protein, and while pork belly is not low on protein, for a meat source it does lack in its amount. A 100-gram portion has about 9.5 grams while some meat cuts go up to 25 and chicken breast, for instance, has 32 grams of protein per 100 grams. This puts the pork belly near the bottom of protein-rich meat cuts.

What Is Pork Belly, two rows of chopped cut pork.

To make all this even worse, the same serving of pork belly has 53 grams of fat, which is close to your total recommended daily intake, well over 80%. This amount will also contain about 25% of the RDI for cholesterol. The amount of saturated fats (the bad ones) is even worse, as there are 19 grams of saturated fat in 100 grams of pork belly, making it a total of 97%. Yes, you got it right, this means if you eat just 100 grams of this meat, you should not eat a single gram of saturated fat for the rest of the day in theory.

To make things a little better, pork belly is not very rich in sodium and has no carbohydrates in it, like meat usually does not. There are some vitamin and mineral benefits to eating the pork belly. For instance, the aforementioned serving has about 25% of the RDI for Thiamin and just about the same percentage for Niacin. There is also a relatively significant amount of Vitamin B12 in pork belly.

Pork Belly v Bacon

When it comes to pork, bacon is probably the most popular dish eaten in the western countries that come from pork. It has become almost anecdotal how much Americans love their bacon, so let us really quickly have a look what pork belly and bacon actually are in comparison.

Well, in principle bacon is pork belly. The real difference between the two is that the bacon has been cured with nitrate, sugar and salt and usually smoked. Celery juice is usually used to cure the bacon as it has a very high nitrate concentration.

Pork Belly Nutrition, cooked pork belly with vegetables on a white plate.

Cooking Pork Belly In Slow Cooker

Cooking pork belly in a slow cooker is a fairly common way of preparing it. If you are new to pork belly or don’t quite know how to cook it, here is a quick recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1-kilogram pork belly
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery

Marinade:

  • Half tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Small piece of ginger minced
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 2 dried red chilies

Preparation

First of we will prepare the marinade. The marinade is super simple to make, simply put all the ingredients in one bowl and stir until it becomes one coherent mix. Put the pork meat into the marinade, and use hands to rub it in really well.

Cooking Pork Belly In Slow Cooker , a plate of pork belly that has been cooked in a slow cooker.

Cut the onions into large slices. Peel the carrots and slice them into 2 or 3 big pieces. Cut the celery into big pieces as well. Put it all into a slow cooker with about 100 ml cold water and put the pork in. Put the lid on and set your slow cooker to medium. Leave the pork to cook for about 6 to 8 hours. You may choose to put the pork into an oven at 200 degrees for about half an hour afterward to make it crispy. The veggies it cooked with will probably not be very good to eat, as they will be too soft and disintegrated, you will probably want to discard them. Instead, cook some broccoli and rice and serve the pork with that. The dish should be super delicious.

Conclusion

Pork belly is one of the fattest groceries you can get. The meat is delicious and many people love to eat it, but the extremely high amount of fats in it, namely the saturated fats can make it really bad for your health if you eat it on a regular basis. The compromise can come from serving the meal as an appetizer in small portions before a less fat main course, such as fish or chicken. Other than that, you may choose to cheat every once in a while and eat a good portion of pork belly, just remember not to do it too often as obesity is a real problem and hard to get rid of. Stay moderate and stay fit.

Image Rights

Images used in accordance with the creative commons version 2.0 license – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Image One by Arnold Garloto – https://www.flickr.com/photos/arndog/4244281304/

Image Two by David McSpadden – https://www.flickr.com/photos/familyclan/14726412192/

Image Three by Krista – https://www.flickr.com/photos/scaredykat/6190544575/

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