Pork is more than great tasting; it’s also an important part of a balanced diet. Health professionals say that variety and moderation are the keys to a healthful, balanced diet. The Food Guide Pyramid recommends that you eat 5 – 7 oz. from the Meat, Poultry, Fish and Dry Beans Group each day. Since pork has a high nutrient density (a high level of nutrients for the level of calories), it’s an excellent part of a balanced meal. Here’s a look at what pork has to offer:

PROTEIN

Pork gives you the essential amino acids your body needs that can only come from food. These high-quality proteins help to build and repair tissues — they keep your muscles, skin, hair and nails in top shape. They also help to fight infection and disease.

IRON

Your body needs iron to help your red blood cells carry oxygen to and carbon dioxide away from body cells. Iron can affect every cell in your body.

ZINC

A mineral used by the body to form enzymes and insulin, zinc promotes healthy skin and helps your taste buds work.

B VITAMINS/THIAMIN

Also known as vitamin B1, thiamin helps you digest food and release energy. It helps you maintain a normal appetite and keeps your nervous system running smoothly. Pork is the leading source of thiamin, containing more than any other food.

RIBOFLAVIN

Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin helps promote healthy skin and helps you see better in bright light. It also helps your body release energy.

NIACIN

Niacin keeps your skin looking healthy and your nerves operating properly. It also helps your body get the energy it needs from food.

VITAMIN B12

This essential nutrient helps you produce mature red blood cells and keeps your nervous system healthy. B12 is found only in animal products, such as pork.