Pork is a type of meat that offers health benefits due to potassium content. Potassium is a mineral nutrient your body relies on for many functions, and a deficiency could result in health complications that affect your heart and muscles. Adding pork to your meal plan can help increase your intake and is a versatile ingredient that is featured in many recipes.
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Daily Intake Recommendations
Age determines the amount of potassium that a person should get each day. Babies ages 6 months and younger need 500 mg per day, infants between the ages of 7 and 12 months should get 700 mg daily and children age 1 to 2 need 1,000 mg every day. Children ages 2 to 5 need 1,400 mg of potassium each day, children between the ages of 6 and 9 need 1,600 mg daily and anyone age 10 or over should be getting at least 2,000 mg on a daily basis.
Importance of Potassium
Getting enough potassium each day, by eating pork and other foods, helps regulate your heartbeat and keeps blood pressure levels healthy. It also plays a role in muscle contraction and the water balance in your cells and tissues. A deficiency increases your risk of irregular heartbeat and can contribute to heart failure. It can also produce dry skin, depression, fatigue and muscle problems.
The amount of potassium in pork varies by the cut, but including it in your diet is a good way to protect your health. A pork loin chop contains about 693 mg of potassium, a pork shoulder steak has about 977 mg of potassium, a rack of pork spareribs has 4,062 mg and 3 oz. of ham contains about 318 mg.
Pork is a good substitute for beef and chicken in many recipes and offers a comparable amount of potassium. Serve pork in tacos, stir-fry or grilled on the barbecue. Pulled pork is a good sandwich filling. Serve roasted pork chops with potatoes and vegetables. Pork pairs well with soy sauce, barbecue sauce and many spice blends, allowing you to increase your potassium intake while creating new and exciting dishes.
While pork does have several health benefits, it does contain some saturated fat, which increases your risk of developing heart disease if eaten in large amounts. The USDA portion guidelines recommend eating 5 to 6.5 oz. of meat each day. Choose lean pork options, such as loin cuts, to keep your overall fat and calorie intake moderate, and eat ham and pork sausage sparingly because both are often very high in sodium, which can affect your blood pressure.