Latest Statistics South Africa figures show that nearly one in every five South Africans suffer from diseases of the circulatory system such as heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and strokes.

The good news is that following a balanced, healthy diet can significantly reduce your risk of circulatory disease, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. And in more good news for meat-lovers, lean pork cuts are also approved as part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s eating plan, which means that fresh pork can play a starring role in your weekly meal planning.

Professional food scientist Melindi Wyma, Group Technical Manager of leading local pork manufacturer Eskort, notes that this includes lean pork cuts such as fillets, tenderloins, (tenderloin is an alternative description of fillet) roasts and steaks.

“Not only is pork one of the most affordable meats by a wide margin, but unlike red meat such as beef or lamb, most fat on lean pork cuts sits on the outside of the meat rather than within the meat itself. This makes it very easy to trim or remove as part of low-fat and heart-healthy diets,” she explains.

“In comparison to beef and lamb, lean pork also contains low amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, which can raise your risk of heart disease, and high amounts of the polyunsaturated fats which can actually help to improve your cholesterol levels and support healthy cell development.”

According to a study by the Agricultural Research Council, pork also packs a powerful punch of essential nutrients for supporting healthy hearts such as vitamins B1 and B3, and magnesium.

For example, vitamin B1 or thiamine plays a crucial role in the breakdown of nutrients and carbohydrates for energy, efficient cell functioning, and well-performing nervous systems, brains, muscles, stomachs and intestines. Critically, it also plays a key role in passing messages between nerves and muscles and maintaining normal cardiac function.

Likewise, vitamin B3 or niacin can help to lower cholesterol and boost energy, while magnesium is vital for combatting heart disease, supporting blood vessels, and helping to maintain a normal heart rhythm.

 Shopping tips for healthy pork choices

Wyma notes that as SA’s favourite pork manufacturer, Eskort’s range has grown to more than 300 different cuts over the past 105 years, including everything from pork mince and sausages to fillets, prego steaks and roasts.

“Many people perceive heart healthy diets as boring or monotonous, but the incredible versatility and variety in Eskort’s pork range means that you can still enjoy a varied diet with great-tasting, highly nutritious meals,” she says.

With these many benefits in mind, Wyma provides three easy shopping tips for making healthy pork choices:

  •  Look for lean cuts with less than 3 millimetres of visible fat: This can include a wide variety of pork cuts such as fillets, loin roast or chops, lean pork mince, and even pork goulash – all of which are available at Eskort retailers nationwide.
  •  Moderate your portions: The South African Pork Producers Association notes that households can safely eat up to 560 grams of lean pork divided over five or six meals each week for a balanced, heart-healthy diet.
  •  Select high quality brands and fresh products: Choose fresh pork cuts from quality, trusted brands with lower fat, sodium, and cholesterol content for most nutritional benefit.