Friday, November 21, 2008

Is Pork Red Meat?

Yesterday, while at work, my co-workers and I were discussing my health and fitness journey and how I would cope during the holidays. During the discussion, I mentioned the fact that I was reducing and/or cutting out red meat from my diet. Well, each year, my job gives out Honey Baked Ham vouchers for turkeys and hams. Well, at the beginning of this month, I opted for the ham...this is before I decided to start my health and fitness regimen. Then, the question was asked by one of my co-workers, "Is pork red meat?" I've always considered pork red meat. In it's original state, pork is red in color. After it has been cooked, it turns white in color, especially pork chops and pork tenderloin. I guess bacon is an exception because it doesn't really change in color significantly...maybe to a brownish color.

My decision to start reducing and cutting out red meat deals with the fact that I'm an African American woman who suffers from uterine fibroid tumors. Fibroids are benign(non-cancerous), muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. There are many factors that can affect a woman's risk of developing fibroids. I've listed a few of them below:

-Age - Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink.

-Family history - Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk. If a woman's mother had fibroids, her risk of having them is about three times higher than average.

-Ethnic origin - African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.

-Obesity - Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.

-Eating habits - Eating a lot of red meat (e.g., beef) and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids. Eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids.

As you can see, of the factors listed, I have all of them. I'm 34 years of age, women on my mother's side of the family suffer from fibroids, I'm African American, I'm not obese but about 30 to 40 pounds overweight, and I love to eat red meat. These factors contributed to my fibroids which were discovered last year during fertility treatment. In February, and again in March of this year, I had surgery to remove the fibroids and repair my fallopian tubes. It was recommended by my doctor that I cut down or cut out the red meat from my diet. took me almost 9 months to come to the realization that I really should take heed to what my doctor recommended.

Ok..back to that question, "Is pork red meat?" I did a little research via the internet and here's what I came up with:

The only real reason it was ever considered white meat is because the pork council decided back in the 80s that the term "red meat" had a bad stigma attached to it, and it was affecting sales. So they tried to cash in on the health food craze and it worked, sales went up.

In pork's defense, it is much healthier today than it was 25 years ago. Pigs are raised and bred differently and the most popular cut of pork (the tenderloin) is now 42% less fat. Pork has changed, and is more healthy but it is still red meat. Also, the FDA classifies pork as a red meat. Pork has become a competitive, nutritive rival to lean poultry.