What Are the Health Benefits of Ukrainian Salo?

Ukrainian salo might sound like an exotic foreign dish, but it's just a fancy word for cured pork fat, often called fatback or backfat in the United States. As the name implies, Ukrainian salo is quite high in fat, much of it unhealthy saturated fat, as well as sodium. Despite the unhealthy sound of the food, it does have a few redeeming qualities. That doesn't mean you should make it a regular part of your diet, but an occasional serving probably won't harm your overall health.

Unsaturated Fat

Though much of the fat in a serving of Ukrainian salo is saturated, a 1-ounce serving also supplies about 15 grams of unsaturated fats. Almost 12 grams of that are monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs, can help lower your cholesterol level, which might reduce your risk of heart disease, according to MayoClinic.com. MUFAs also promote healthy insulin levels, which is beneficial for individuals with Type 2 diabetes. About 3 grams are polyunsaturated fats, or PUFAs. PUFAs can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, MayoClinic.com notes.

Vitamins and Minerals

Ukrainian salo isn't too impressive in terms of vitamins and minerals, but it does supply a few. A 1-ounce serving of Ukrainian salo supplies 0.28 milligram of niacin, which is 2 percent of the 14 milligrams women need each day and almost 2 percent of the 16 milligrams men require on a daily basis. Niacin is essential for the health of your skin, nervous system and digestive system. That same serving also contains 35 international units of vitamin D. That's about 6 percent of the 600 international units healthy adults need each day. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and plays a role in the health of your immune system, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ukrainian salo provides trace amounts of iron, potassium and vitamin A, as well.

Additional Benefits

Despite being so high in fat, Ukrainian salo is low in cholesterol, with just 16 milligrams per 1-ounce serving. That translates to 5 percent of the 300-milligram limit healthy adults should stick to each day. Keeping your cholesterol intake within that limit can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. You'll get a small amount of protein from a serving of Ukrainian salo, as well.

Tips and Considerations

One drawback to Ukrainian salo is the amount of saturated fat it contains. One ounce has 9.1 grams of saturated fat. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, that's 41 percent of your daily 22-gram limit. Regularly going overboard on saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels and put you at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Because Ukrainian salo is cured, it contains a large amount of sodium per serving, as well. A 1-ounce portion contains around 760 milligrams of sodium, which is one-third of the 2,300 milligrams you should limit yourself to each day. Too much sodium increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

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