When you’re in the mood for meat but you’re watching your fat intake, pork chops make the cut. With just half the total fat of an average cut of beef and 108 calories, a boneless pork chop won’t push you over your daily fat or calorie goals. You’ll also get almost half your daily requirement of protein and many of the B vitamins.
You’ll find pork chops with several different names, but they all come from the loin, which is the strip of meat that runs from the shoulder to the hip. The name simply indicates which portion of the loin they came from. Nutritional values provided are for a 3-ounce, or 85-gram, portion of boneless top loin pork chop. The actual amount of nutrients you’ll consume may vary a little depending on the thickness and total weight of the pork chop.
In addition to watching the total fat in your diet, track the type of fat because that significantly impacts your health. Saturated fats and cholesterol contribute to cardiovascular disease, while unsaturated fats lower cholesterol. A 3-ounce boneless pork chop has 2.9 grams of total fat, which includes 1 gram of saturated fat and 56 milligrams of cholesterol. Limit total fat intake to 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories and saturated fat to less than 7 percent. If you consume 1,800 calories a day, the total fat in one pork chop accounts for just 1.5 percent, and the saturated fat is less than 1 percent, of daily calories.
From building tissues, including your muscles, to making hormones and enzymes involved in metabolism, virtually every part of your body depends on protein. When you digest protein, it's broken down into amino acids that your body uses to build new protein according to its specific needs. Amino acids aren’t stored for future use, so you should consume about 46 grams of protein every day, depending on your body weight and activity level. One 3-ounce boneless pork chop has 19 grams of protein, which is 41 percent of the daily value.
When you’re low on energy, you may need a boost of B vitamins because they all metabolize food into energy. Pork chops can help by providing at least 50 percent of your daily intake of vitamin B-6, thiamin and niacin. Vitamin B-6 also helps make serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Meat is one of the primary sources of vitamin B-12 and you'll get 18 percent of the recommended daily intake from one 3-ounce boneless pork chop. In addition to supporting fat metabolism, vitamin B-12 makes red blood cells and hormones.
Women don’t need a lot of zinc -- the recommended daily intake is 8 milligrams -- but getting that small amount in your daily diet is critical because it's not stored in the body. Zinc is part of hundreds of enzymes involved in metabolism and it helps synthesize DNA, which makes it vital for the normal growth of cells. If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system becomes more susceptible because fewer bacteria-fighting cells are produced. You’ll get 1.35 milligrams, or 17 percent of the daily recommended intake, from a 3-ounce boneless pork chop.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Pork, Fresh, Loin, Top Loin (Chops), Boneless, Separable Lean Only, Raw
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol -- Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12
- Linus Pauling Institute: Zinc
- PubMed.gov: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews -- Zinc for the Common Cold
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.