The pandemic has forced millions of people around the world to stay home, providing many with the chance to try different recipes. Quarantines have become an opportunity to innovate with new dishes and try to replace more harmful foods that are usually eaten due to the lack of time and, therefore, dedication.

Now more than ever, it is vital to eat a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system and keep defenses high in order to avoid unnecessary suffering in case of catching COVID-19.

Nutrition experts have identified a close link between immunological imbalances and nutrition deficits. Similarly, a weak immune system may be the result of low levels of proteins or a deficiency in amino acids, antioxidants, etc., which must be corrected with an adequate eating plan once they are identified.

In mid-2019, a study conducted by the Pork Producers Trade Association, ASPROCER and the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology from the Universidad de Chile (INTA) was released. It analyzed the chemical composition of five extra-lean cuts and revealed that pork contains high levels of iron, vitamins and proteins that improve muscle tone, have a positive impact on the nervous system, and prevent skin and mucous injuries. Thus, consuming it promotes a healthy and balanced diet.

The extra-lean cuts mentioned in the study are those with less than 5% of fat per 100 g. Center loin, tenderloin, knuckle, inside ham, and diced pork belong to this category. There are other cuts that should be considered lean, but according to the Chilean Health Code, are labeled as “containing less than 10% of total fat,” i.e., shoulder, bone in loin portion, boneless leg, heel, and ground meat. These products have a slightly higher fat content, but are still healthy.

According to INTA, these cuts are an excellent source of protein because every 100 g of pork contain 20 to 23 g of protein. All extra-lean cuts are also considered low in sodium, as they contain less than 140 mg, specifically 80 mg. Similarly, they show a high content of phosphorus -over 20% of the recommended daily intake- and potassium, between 10% and 19%.

Benefits of pork for more vulnerable groups

According to the World Health Organization, it is highly recommended for infants to start eating lean meat at around six months of age. Due to its high content of vitamins and minerals, pork is considered an excellent choice for this dietary introduction and consumption frequency.

Meanwhile, thanks to its protein content, pork helps maintain muscle mass in elderly adults, thus helping preserve strength and balance. In addition, it is low in sodium and cholesterol, and has monounsaturated fats that promote cardiovascular health. This is important considering that the main cause of death in Chile and globally is cardiovascular diseases or conditions.

Pork does not require much seasoning to guarantee great flavor. However, a nice cooking technique will help achieve the ideal juiciness and texture, both of which are qualities that are typical of a good preparation. It is even better if it is served with vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals such as broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, and red bell peppers, to name a few.[:]