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Pork belly vs. Pork shoulder — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 03, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Pork belly
vs
Pork shoulder

Summary

Pork shoulder is a leaner cut, and it is richer in proteins, selenium, choline, zinc, phosphorus, iron, copper, and vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, and D. In comparison, pork belly is higher in total fats and saturated fats and richer in vitamins B3 and B12.

Introduction

This text will compare two different pork cuts; pork shoulder vs. pork belly. These cuts are different cuts based on several aspects. They are different according to taste, tenderness, the content of fat, and the content of lean meat.

The pork shoulder contains a lean portion. However, it's a tougher cut. A pork belly is a juicer and fattier cut than a pork shoulder.

The main focus of this article will be their nutritional content and health impacts.

Nutritional content comparison

We are going to consider 100g of each cut. Noting that we are considering them in their raw state.

Calories

Since pork belly is a fattier cut, it contains more calories. Pork belly contains nearly 2.2 times more calories compared to pork shoulder. Pork belly contains 518 calories, whereas pork shoulder 238 calories.

Carbs

The carb content of both cuts is negligible.

Proteins

Pork shoulder is a leaner cut and contains double the amount of protein compared to pork belly. Pork shoulder contains nearly 18g of protein, whereas pork belly contains 9g of protein.

Fats

Pork belly is very high in fat and contains 53g of fat compared to pork shoulder, which contains nearly 18g of fat.

It is important to note that pork belly is very high in saturated fats. It contains nearly 20g of saturated fats compared to pork shoulder, which contains 6g.

However, pork belly is richer in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Minerals

Pork shoulder is richer in selenium, choline, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and copper. It is richer in all minerals compared to pork belly.

Below we can visualize their comparative diagrams.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains less Sodium -50.8%
Contains more Calcium +200%
Contains more Iron +101.9%
Contains more Magnesium +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +68.5%
Contains more Potassium +63.2%
Contains more Zinc +164.7%
Contains more Copper +61.5%
Contains more Manganese +83.3%
Contains more Selenium +218.8%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 1.5% 20% 2.9% 46% 16% 4.2% 28% 17% 0.78% 44%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 4.5% 39% 13% 78% 27% 8.5% 74% 28% 1.4% 139%
Contains less Sodium -50.8%
Contains more Calcium +200%
Contains more Iron +101.9%
Contains more Magnesium +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +68.5%
Contains more Potassium +63.2%
Contains more Zinc +164.7%
Contains more Copper +61.5%
Contains more Manganese +83.3%
Contains more Selenium +218.8%

Vitamins

Pork shoulder is richer in vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, and D. Whereas pork belly is richer in vitamins B3 and B12.

Below we can visualize their comparative diagrams.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin A +42.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +105.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +21.2%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +13.5%
Contains more Vitamin C +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +93.7%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +13.6%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +180.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +167.7%
Contains more Folate +400%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0.6% 7.8% 0% 1% 99% 56% 87% 15% 30% 0.75% 105% 0% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0.42% 3.8% 51% 2.3% 192% 63% 72% 43% 80% 3.8% 93% 33% 0%
Contains more Vitamin A +42.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +105.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +21.2%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +13.5%
Contains more Vitamin C +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +93.7%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +13.6%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +180.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +167.7%
Contains more Folate +400%

Health impacts

Pork shoulder and belly come from pork; these cuts can affect health differently since their nutritional content differs.

The pork shoulder is a leaner cut than the pork belly; however, it has tougher meat since it comes from the shoulder, which supports the animal's weight. The shoulder cut is healthier since it is lower in calories and fats. It is richer in proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

Cardiovascular and metabolic health

Pork belly is high in fats and saturated fats which is linked with increased risks of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic diseases.

High saturated fat foods are linked with increased cardiovascular mortality risks such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarctions. (1)(2)

Anemia

Section reviewed by gastroenterologist Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan

Pork shoulder and belly and rich in iron and vitamin B12: pork shoulder is richer in iron, and pork belly is richer in vitamin B12.

Regular iron-rich food consumption decreases the risk of iron deficiency or microcytic anemia and helps in the treatment. In comparison, vitamin B12 decreases the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency or megaloblastic anemia. (3)(4)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to maintain normal immunity, bone health, and calcium homeostasis, among other physiological necessities. Pork shoulder is richer in vitamin D, which improves overall physiology, and it is a necessary vitamin to consume in countries with low sun exposure. (5)

Choline benefits

Choline is an essential element to consider, and pork shoulder contains a rich and highly bioavailable source of choline. Choline is essential in general physiological processes, specifically in the formation of acetylcholine and the regulation of homocysteine metabolism. This choline maintains metabolic physiology and cognitive activity of the nervous system. (6)

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 03, 2023
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Pork belly vs Pork shoulder infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Fats +194.7%
Contains more Other +12.3%
Contains more Protein +83.9%
Contains more Water +74.3%
9% 53% 37%
Protein: 9.34 g
Fats: 53.01 g
Carbs: 0 g
Water: 36.74 g
Other: 0.91 g
17% 18% 64%
Protein: 17.18 g
Fats: 17.99 g
Carbs: 0 g
Water: 64.02 g
Other: 0.81 g
Contains more Fats +194.7%
Contains more Other +12.3%
Contains more Protein +83.9%
Contains more Water +74.3%

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +208.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +194.3%
Contains less Saturated Fat -67.7%
39% 50% 11%
Saturated Fat: 19.33 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 24.7 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 5.65 g
39% 50% 12%
Saturated Fat: 6.24 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 8.01 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.92 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +208.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +194.3%
Contains less Saturated Fat -67.7%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Pork belly Pork shoulder
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Lower in price Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pork belly Pork shoulder Opinion
Protein 9.34g 17.18g Pork shoulder
Fats 53.01g 17.99g Pork belly
Calories 518kcal 236kcal Pork belly
Calcium 5mg 15mg Pork shoulder
Iron 0.52mg 1.05mg Pork shoulder
Magnesium 4mg 18mg Pork shoulder
Phosphorus 108mg 182mg Pork shoulder
Potassium 185mg 302mg Pork shoulder
Sodium 32mg 65mg Pork belly
Zinc 1.02mg 2.7mg Pork shoulder
Copper 0.052mg 0.084mg Pork shoulder
Manganese 0.006mg 0.011mg Pork shoulder
Selenium 8µg 25.5µg Pork shoulder
Vitamin A 10IU 7IU Pork belly
Vitamin A RAE 3µg 2µg Pork belly
Vitamin E 0.39mg 0.19mg Pork belly
Vitamin D 70IU Pork shoulder
Vitamin D 1.7µg Pork shoulder
Vitamin C 0.3mg 0.7mg Pork shoulder
Vitamin B1 0.396mg 0.767mg Pork shoulder
Vitamin B2 0.242mg 0.275mg Pork shoulder
Vitamin B3 4.647mg 3.833mg Pork belly
Vitamin B5 0.256mg 0.719mg Pork shoulder
Vitamin B6 0.13mg 0.348mg Pork shoulder
Folate 1µg 5µg Pork shoulder
Vitamin B12 0.84µg 0.74µg Pork belly
Choline 60.6mg Pork shoulder
Tryptophan 0.208mg Pork shoulder
Threonine 0.768mg Pork shoulder
Isoleucine 0.781mg Pork shoulder
Leucine 1.36mg Pork shoulder
Lysine 1.531mg Pork shoulder
Methionine 0.441mg Pork shoulder
Phenylalanine 0.681mg Pork shoulder
Valine 0.921mg Pork shoulder
Histidine 0.656mg Pork shoulder
Cholesterol 72mg 71mg Pork shoulder
Saturated Fat 19.33g 6.24g Pork shoulder
Monounsaturated Fat 24.7g 8.01g Pork belly
Polyunsaturated fat 5.65g 1.92g Pork belly

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Pork belly Pork shoulder
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
31%
Pork belly
49%
Pork shoulder
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
18%
Pork belly
41%
Pork shoulder

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Pork shoulder
Pork shoulder is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 1mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Pork shoulder
Pork shoulder is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 13.09g)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Pork shoulder
Pork shoulder is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Pork shoulder
Pork shoulder is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pork belly
Pork belly contains less Sodium (difference - 33mg)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Pork belly - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167812/nutrients
  2. Pork shoulder - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167843/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.