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Pig versus Chicken: Sweet & Tangy Pork Tenderloin

For chicken breast devotees looking to switch up their protein consumption, don't forget about pork tenderloin. While I've always enjoyed the other white meat, it was a surprise to learn that pork tenderloin is slightly leaner than a skinless chicken breast! Who knew?

*Photo from BrooklynFarmHouse.com

A new study conducted by scientists at the USDA, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland, revealed that part of the reason for the leanness of pork tenderloin is that today's pigs are less fatty. Due to the increased demand for lean protein, farmers have (over the years) bred leaner oinkers. Today's piglet is 47% leaner than 25 years ago!

Specifically the study reported that pork tenderloin yields 2.98 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, versus skinless chicken breast's 3.03 grams of fat for the same size serving. Pork tenderloin therefore meets government guidelines for "extra lean" status.

The above fat content assumes a healthy preparation and a fully trimmed piece of meat. However, food packagers and others may not be up to speed on pork's new lean status. For example, I've encountered varying nutrition profiles. This site lists 3 oz of "Pork, Fresh, Loin, Tenderloin, Separable Lean Only, Cooked, Roasted" as having 4.1 grams of fat- My pork tenderloin from Trader Joe's provides nutrition info for a 4 ounce serving size and lists total fat as 4 grams. The site previously mentioned also provides nutrition information for an 86 gram boneless chicken breast (which equates to 3.0335 oz). The fat content is slightly less (3.1 grams) than what it reports for pork-

Bottom Line: Pork tenderloin presents a sensible, high protein option to chicken; especially when dining out. Many restaurants offer pork tenderloin and the preparation tends to be grilled. But skip the garlic mashed potatoes. Of course, our Eat Well section will list plenty of restaurants and other dining options to keep you on the straight and narrow! If you're cooking at home, skip frying, breading and other calorie laden recipes and instead marinate then grill or bake it. Trimming the tenderloin is also important (and a pain), but well worth the effort. In case you need some inspiration, this is a favorite and it's incredibly easy; total crowd pleaser.

Sweet and Tasty Roasted Pork

  • ¼ cup brown sugar 
  • 2 T cider vinegar 
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1.5 tsp chile powder 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin 

Combine ingredients in shallow dish and coat the pork and let marinate 24-48 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove pork from refridgerator 30 minutes before cooking. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray

Bake for 20-25 minutes; until 155 degrees OR when cut in middle it's pink.

NOTE: remove pork and let rest 5-10 minutes; it will keep cooking, so factor this in. The pork should be pink!

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