Dr Laura Wyness: Leaning towards a nice bit of pork? Go out and buy some chop-chop

As the world’s most ­consumed meat, pork is a much-loved choice by many millions of people. In Scotland, we’re incredibly lucky that as a nation we have access to the highest quality, fresh ingredients such as fresh pork, produced by the family farms that are at the centre of Scotland’s red meat industry – an industry that supports 50,000 jobs across the country.

Pork is eaten in many forms around the world  and as a lean meat packed with vitamins and minerals, its ideal to add to healthy eating diet

But when it comes to nutritional value, lean pork is commonly ­overlooked in favour of what are often wrongly perceived as ‘healthier’ or more nutritious choices.

When it comes to nutrition, pork is a great source of vitamins and ­minerals, and when added to diets it delivers similar benefits as other lean meats. The perception of pork as an inferior choice is unwarranted.

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Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are currently calling for people to choose lean pork following a recent ­survey carried out by Censuswide that revealed almost one-third of Scots are not aware that pork, one of ­Scotland’s most versatile and tasty ingredients, is a great choice as part of a healthy and varied eating plan.

Dr Laura Wyness, PhD, RNutr, Quality Meat Scotland

We know from research that ­consumers are becoming more and more interested in understanding the health properties of the meat they buy – and that’s why it is important to highlight the evidence on the ­nutritional and health benefits of pork.

Pork is a natural source of good quality protein and is rich in ­nutrients that contribute to healthy brain function and may help to enhance your mood and reduce tiredness and fatigue, as well as maintaining a healthy immune system – including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, ­vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin D, zinc and ­selenium.

Unlike some meat-free and processed alternatives, unprocessed pork is naturally low in sodium.

The survey also found that 77 per cent of Scots started 2019 on a diet – with all the key reasons in doing so linking back to a collective desire to lead healthier lifestyles. Lean meat, such as pork can be useful to include as part of a healthy and varied diet.

Evidence suggests that higher ­protein meals and diets may be more satiating than those with lower ­protein content. Including lean meats such as pork in your diet can help with appetite control and may help maintain a healthy body weight.

The call to get people to consider lean pork as a healthy meat to include as part of a healthy varied diet follows the publishing of the Scottish ­Government’s Healthy Weight Delivery Plan in July 2018, which has resulted in a renewed focus on improving the nation’s diet and weight.

Scotland has the highest levels of obesity in the UK, with the report seeking to address this by tackling the nation’s consumption of food and drink that has little to no nutritional value, but which contribute calories or salt to our diet.

Taking this into account, including lean pork on the menu seems like a logical choice, fitting with the Scottish Government’s drive to promote healthier lifestyles and supporting local farmers.

It’s not just physical health that pork can positively impact. Evidence shows that the high quality protein and the range of B vitamins present in pork can have a beneficial effect on your mood and mental health by contributing to the normal psychological function and reducing fatigue. The high quality protein found in red meats such as pork provide amino acids needed to make key neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood.

On the back of all the above findings, I support QMS’s drive to get people to consider pork with the launch of its new campaign, Go Places with Pork. The campaign aims to get the nation cooking pork by inspiring people with adventurous new dishes which highlight the different ways people can introduce this versatile, budget-friendly meat to their diets. It’s time we made the most of what’s on our doorstep and help support not only Scotland’s farmers, but also our own health. The benefits are far-reaching.

When buying pork, look out for the blue Specially Selected Pork label that guarantees the pork comes from the Scottish SPCA approved farms that meet stringent criteria including animal welfare and a high standard of production methods.

For more information as well as a variety of Specially Selected Pork ­recipes, visit www.scotchkitchen.com or visit Scotch Kitchen on ­Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Dr Laura Wyness, PhD, RNutr, Quality Meat Scotland.