The words ‘pork fat’ and ‘nutritious’ don’t quite go together, but that may soon change, given a surprising finding by scientists which was first published in 2015 but went viral only recently.
According to a BBC report in January 2018, researchers who analysed more than 1,000 raw foods found that lard is among the top 10 foods which provide the best balance of a person’s daily nutritional requirements.
Pork fat was ranked 8th in a list of 100 foods, with a nutritional score of 74 – the higher the number, the more likely it will meet your daily nutritional needs.
It is listed as containing “a good source of B vitamins and minerals” as well as being “more unsaturated and healthier than lamb or beef fat”.
Here are the top 10 most nutritious foods and their nutritional scores, according to the study:
1. Almonds, 97
2. Cherimoya (a type of fruit), 96
3. Ocean perch (a deep-water fish), 89
4. Flatfish, 88
5. Chia seeds, 85
6. Pumpkin seeds, 84
7. Swiss chard, 78
8. Pork fat, 73
9. Beet greens, 70
10. Snapper, 69
In addition, pork fat contains oleic acid with 60% monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated oleic acid has been found to be good for the heart, arteries and skin, and also helps to regulate hormones. As a comparison, butter contains 45% monounsaturated fat.
But as with many things, moderation is key.
Excessive consumption of fat can lead to obesity, according to a Singapore-based nutritionist interviewed by the Chinese daily.
“As long as it’s pure and unprocessed, it can be beneficial for the body,” said the nutritionist. But she recommends not consuming more than six spoonfuls a day, and stresses the importance of a balanced diet: “For example, meat is a better source of Vitamin B than fat, and essential omega-3 fatty acids are obtained from other foods.”
Still, it’s good news for the rest of us who can tuck into our favourite roast pork or kou rou bao (pork belly bun) with just a little less guilt.