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Pork Tenderloin 101: Is It Healthy? Nutrition and Benefits
Nutrition

Pork Tenderloin 101: Is It Healthy? Nutrition and Benefits

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 2, 2023
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6 min

Pork tenderloin is a good source of high-quality protein, essential vitamins, and minerals. But is it suitable for a healthy diet? We explain whether its nutritional profile is beneficial to health.

is pork tenderloin healthy
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Protein is vital for a healthy body and muscle growth. However, most animal protein sources contain saturated fat, which increases the risk of diseases such as hypertension. Getting a lean source of protein in the diet is vital, and pork tenderloin meets the criteria. 

It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals while being low in fat and salt. Any cooking method can be used as long as it removes parasites frequently present in pork.

So, can pork tenderloin be part of a healthy diet? We explain this and more in this article.

What Is Pork Tenderloin?

Pork tenderloin, also called pork fillet, is a thin, boneless, and long cut from pork loin muscle. The tenderloin is a tender cut of meat because it is cut from the muscle of the pig’s spine, which is not used for movement. 

It is extra lean, contains very little fat with a close nutritional profile to skinless chicken breast, and can be part of a healthy diet.

Is Pork Tenderloin Healthy?

Yes, pork tenderloin is healthy because it is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and essential minerals. It is an extra lean cut of meat and can be classified together with white meat, such as skinless chicken breast, because it contains less saturated fat and total fats, making it more heart-healthy than other cuts of pork.

5 Health Benefits of Pork Tenderloin

#1 Excellent source of protein

Intake of high-quality protein protects against age-related muscle degeneration and preserves muscle mass. Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of high-quality protein and contains all nine essential amino acids that are beneficial for building and repairing muscle mass that degenerates with old age. It is also beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders for muscle growth and repair.

#2 Contains less saturated fats and is heart-healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the world. Studies show that red meat and processed meat contain high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and conditions like high blood pressure.

Pork tenderloin contains less saturated fats, and moderate consumption alongside a healthy diet is unlikely to increase the risk of heart disease. According to the US Department of Agriculture, tenderloin is leaner than skinless chicken and lean meat and has less saturated fat compared to skinless chicken thighs.

#3 Improves exercise performance

Pork tenderloin contains essential nutrients beneficial for muscle function and performance, such as taurine, creatine, and beta-alanine. The body uses beta-alanine amino acid to produce carnosine, which enhances muscle function, improves physical performance, and reduces fatigue

#4 Excellent source of B vitamins

Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of B vitamins such as niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 – all essential to the body. Niacin is important for growth and metabolism, thiamine is necessary for body functions, and vitamins B6 and B12 are for blood formation and nerve and brain function.

#5 Rich in essential minerals

Pork tenderloin is high in minerals like phosphorus, which is necessary for growth and development. It includes selenium, which is suitable for the immune system, as well as zinc, which is good for the brain and the immune system. Although it is low in sodium, it is not the same as cured pork products like bacon or ham, which contain a lot of salt (sodium) that raises the risk of hypertension.

Nutrition Facts of Pork Tenderloin

Here is the nutritional value of roasted pork tenderloin per 100g serving.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)143
Net Carbs (g)0
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)1.2
Protein (g)26.2

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168250/nutrients 

Moderate amount of calories and fats 

Pork tenderloin contains moderate amounts of calories and fats and is a good choice for weight loss. A serving of 100g only has 143kcal. It also contains healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats.

High in proteins

The meat is a good source of high-quality proteins because it contains all nine essential amino acids. It contains 26.2g of protein per 100g, almost 50% of the daily requirements.

Zero carbohydrates and sugars

Aside from being low in fats, the cut chunks contain zero sugars and carbohydrates, which helps with improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, and B group vitamins. For instance, a 100g serving contains 267mg of phosphorus, 421mg of potassium 38mcg of selenium.

High in cholesterol

A 100g serving of cooked pork tenderloin contains 73mg of cholesterol. Thus, you need to moderate your intake.

Pork tenderloin vs. beef tenderloin

Nutrient per 100gBeef tenderloinPork tenderloin
Saturated fat9.72g5.23g
Phosphorus203mg246mg
Potassium331mg423mg
Vitamin B33mg5.4mg
Selenium22.8mcg45.3mcg
Iron3.11mg0.87mg
Vitamin B122.46mcg0.7mcg
Zinc4.03mg2.29mg

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167820/nutrients

Pork tenderloin contains more vitamin B3, selenium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus and is lower in saturated fat than beef tenderloin. However, beef tenderloin contains more vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.

Baked Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Roasted pork tenderloin is a delicious and easy-to-make recipe. Roast pork tenderloin in just 30 minutes and enjoy it as part of a healthy diet!

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Servings: 8

Calories: 133kcal

Ingredients  

  • 2 1/2lb pork tenderloin (2 roasts)
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Directions

  1. Check for any fat on the tenderloin roasts and trim it off.
  2. Combine salt, paprika, parsley, cumin, ground black pepper, and oregano. Rub this mixture evenly over the two roasts.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (205ºC).
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Roast pork tenderloin in the skillet and cook each side until browned for about 5–10 minutes.
  5. Keep the roasted pork tenderloin on the cast iron skillet and move it to the oven. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, transfer the roasted pork tenderloin to a baking dish and place it into the heated oven.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes while uncovered until internal temperature reaches 145°F (63ºC) in the meat thermometer.
  7. Remove it from the oven. Cover and set it aside for 3 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

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FAQs

Is pork tenderloin fattening?

Pork tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork that is low in fat, just like skinless chicken breast. It has zero calories and can be good for weight loss as part of a healthy diet.

Is pork tenderloin lean meat?

Pork tenderloin is cut from the loin muscle of the pig. The meat is tender and lean because it has less fat content and is the leanest part of pork. A 100g serving contains only 2g of fat.

Is pork tenderloin red meat?

Although pork tenderloin has a light color when cooked, it is classified as red meat because it contains more myoglobin compared to fish and chicken. However, it has lower calories and saturated fat than red meats such as beef or processed pork products such as bacon and ham.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Pork tenderloin is extra lean and contains less saturated fat than red meat, making it heart-healthy. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc, B vitamins, and phosphorus.

It contains several nutrients, such as taurine, creatine, and betaine, that improve physical performance and promote muscle growth and maintenance. Because it is low in saturated fats, it does not increase your risk of heart disease.

You can consume moderate amounts of pork tenderloin as part of a healthy diet. Ensure you cook properly because undercooked pork may harbor worms and parasites. Avoid consuming cured pork products because they have added salt (sodium).

Conclusion

In case you don’t eat pork because you believe it is high in unhealthy fats, please note that pork tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork and is good for you, just like lean beef and chicken. You can substitute other meat for pork tenderloin because it has less saturated fat and is better for heart health, unlike other cuts of pork.

Overall, it is a good source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Consume it in moderation in addition to a healthy diet.

DoFasting
The fastest track to healthy weight loss
  • Useful progress tracker and calendar
  • Calorie tracker to track daily caloric intake
  • Over 5,000 nutritious recipes
Our rating:
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Visit DoFasting
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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