i just bought a bunch of chicharrones from the mexican butcher-counter nearby (definitely conventionally raised factory-pork).
does anyone think pork rinds are healthy to any extent? are they something to avoid? from what i understand they are super high in protein - is it poor-quality? can the body utilize it? do you have some straightforward info on the the PUFA situation? let's assume i'm talking about pork rinds fried in their own fat, as these are.
i just ate a ton of em, and i'm feeling a little grossed out.
Pork rinds are my go-to snack on long road trips where other options may be limited. Look on the label and if it reads "fried out pork fat" (or "fried out pork fat with skin attached" if they are "cracklins") and salt as the only two ingredients, then, at least from a health perspective, I say go for it.
The primary fat in pork is mono-unsaturated, the same "heart-healthy" fat that gets such a good rap when it is found in olive oil, macadamia nuts, avocados, etc. This also means that it is resistant to high-temperatures (the smoke point of lard is 370 degrees Fahrenheit) and less likely to be oxidized. The rest of the fat is primarily saturated with only about 10% coming from polyunsaturated fatty acids.
To be sure, the treatment of factory farmed animals is horrendous and I don't condone their practices, but life is full of compromises and not one of us is guiltless.
Pork fat is very healthy, even though the omega 6 is higher than is probably optimal. I do worry that the high heat involved in deep frying -- if that's how they were prepared would damage the PUFAs. Most of the fat, though, is saturated or monounsaturated.
Many other cultures also eat pork rinds and they have not turned-out (% wise)to be as obese as Americans. These people are not dropping dead due to eating pork rinds, perhaps due to more active lifestyles. These cultures use most of the animal and do not waste, perhaps out of nesecity.
Pork rinds are tasty if prepared right from the start, and adding other condiments make for great dishes (e.i. cooked as soups [tomatillo/grn chile or tomatoe base/cilantro] with vegatables and as a snack right out of the bag it is hard to beat (add lime & a little hot sauce, yummy).
For those of you who are disgusted by them, it is not surprising from a society that doesn't like to see whole fish on their plates, as if cows never had heads and were always choice-cut steaks. Economic advantage is fomentation for mass-production of chickens which, most of us eat ignoring the filthy industry practices of raising chicken (in grossly populated coops with feces and other dead birds). I also wonder how many disgusting man-made chemicals (hot-dogs, lunch meats, fast-foods, frozen meals, etc.) we consume daily and through-out our lifetime, the same ones that make us really ill and we in turn export to the world.
I eat these once every two weeks. It is conventially raised pork. It is probably riddled with the bad fats. I take a fish oil before eating.
These are superb, by the way, simmered with a tomatillo salsa, served garnished with guacamole and lemon juice.
Actually pork rinds are a reasonable snack if you want to look at the nutrition facts and if you consume meat products. Historically pork rinds could only be found in the fried and packaged ready to eat variety. Pork rinds are actually pieces of pork skin that are produced in a process called rendering. Rendering is actually cooking the pork skins with some salt added as a preservative. This process removes 70% of the fact and a hard pellet is produced. The shelf life of the pellet is 9 months and does not require refrigeration. To make the packaged ready to eat pork rinds, they are fried in lard (or some type of oil) to puff them up. As they flow through the cooker they actually absorb fat which explains why these pork rinds have 60% more fat than microwave pork rinds. Many manufacturers then add seasoning which includes salt, seasonings and sometimes MSG to enhance flavor. The shelf life of the fried pork rind is now reduced to 3 months due to oxygen exposure and the additional fat in the product. Julia's Southern Foods makes a brand called Carolina Gold Nuggets where no additional seasoning is added and they have less sodium and obviously no MSG. One of the related sites which also addresses fullness factor and a nutrition comparison of microwave pork rinds to other sites is Chef Curly Tail.
On the scale of animal fats, pork is supposed to be further down the list than say grass-fed beef or lamb based on its omega 3/6 balance, but I think it is still considered an excellent saturated fat to have. My concern would be what the pig ate before being slaughtered, which would have an effect on the nutritional value of its fat, but in any event, this is way into the "acceptable" range for me.
Store bought pork rinds might be fried in vegetable oils, but I think that pork rinds fried in lard would be a pretty awesome Paleo snack.
I love these things and find them a lot more satisfying than potato chips, so it is harder to overeat with them.
I render my own lard from leaf fat, and after the fat renders, there are little bits of meat and "stuff" left over that fry in the rendered lard. This is close to pork rinds, and are delicious, and my kids fight over who gets to have them!
Make you own! So easy and probably cheaper. Crock pot a bunch of raw pork suet until it is slightly browned. Pour most of the fat into a separate container. Stick in the fridge. The next morning you have delicious heaven!
No hormones are used in U.S. pork production and antibiotics are used sparingly with a "withdrawal" period from slaughter if they have been treated. Also, they rarely spend money on additional fat for frying as pork rinds are usually a byproduct of the rendering process for the skin.
Make your own. Pork fat is super cheap and it's really worth the effort. Plus you get a large quantity of -un-hydrogenated lard to cook with the deal. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/06/the-nasty-bits-how-to-make-chicharrones-recipe.html
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