Pork skins, also known as pork rinds, are a crunchy fried snack food. Pork skins are made by chopping, cooking and smoking pieces of pork skin, before deep-frying the pieces in 400-degree-Fahrenheit lard. The frying process causes the skins to puff-up, giving pork rinds their unique, airy and crunchy texture. Pork rinds are often marketed to low-carb dieters because they are a quick and crunchy snack food high in protein and contain no carbohydrates, unlike other chips and convenience-store snacks.
Nutrition -- Macronutrients
One ounce of fried pork skin contains 152 calories, with 79 calories -- more than half -- coming from fat. For a fried snack food, pork skins are high in protein, containing 17 g of protein. There are no carbohydrates, making pork skins a low-glycemic food, with little impact on blood sugar. If you're following a 2,000-calorie diet, between 200 and 700 calories should come from protein, and 500 to 700 calories should come from fat. Pork skins can easily fit into your daily diet, if you practice portion control.
Pork skins don't contain any sugar or fiber, but can be very high in sodium. A 1-oz. serving contains 515 mg of sodium. USDA dietary guidelines suggest consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily; if, however, you have high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, are over 51 years old or are African-American, the recommended daily allowance is 1,500 mg. One ounce of pork skins has 27 mg of dietary cholesterol -- well within the 300-mg limit suggested by the USDA.
Pork skins are higher in protein than other crunchy snack foods such as potato chips or nacho cheese tortilla chips, but they may also be higher in fat and salt content. A 1-oz. serving of potato chips has about the same number of calories and calories from fat as pork skins, but has only about 30 percent of the sodium. Potato chips also contain 15 g of carbs and 1 g of fiber. Tortilla chips have slightly fewer calories and less fat, but also have 17 g of carbs and 2 g of sugar.
Pork Skins in Your Diet
Many less healthy foods can be eaten in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. Pork skins often come in 2 or 2.5 oz bags. Pay attention to serving sizes -- eating 2.5 oz. of pork skins will provide almost 400 calories and 22 g of fat -- more than a quick snack should contain. The high protein and fat content should help fill you up, and because pork skins contain no sugars or carbs, they won't raise your blood sugar like candy, cookies or snack cakes.