Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oven roasted meat: Pork tenderloin

This cut of pork is the equivalent in the pig of the filet mignon in cattle. It is just as soft, and lean too. A 100 g portion of roasted pork tenderloin will have about 22 g of protein, and 6 g of fat. Most of the fat will be monounsaturated and saturated, and some polyunsaturated. The latter will contain about 450 mg of omega-6 and 15 mg of omega-3 fats in it.

The saturated fat is good for you. The omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio is not a great one, but a 100 g portion will have a small absolute amount of omega-6 fats, which can be easily offset with some omega-3 from seafood or a small amount of fish oil. Pork tenderloin is easy to find in supermarkets, and is much less expensive than filet mignon, even though it is a relatively expensive cut of meat.

Below are the before and after photos of a roasted pork tenderloin we prepared and ate recently; a simple recipe follows the photos. This type of cooking leads to a Maillard reaction, which is clear from the browning of the meat and around it on the casserole. I am not too concerned; more about this after the recipe.

Below is the simple recipe. The roasted pork pieces come off easily after the roasting is done, and almost melt in the mouth!

- Make about 10 holes on 2 lbs of pork tenderloin, and add chopped garlic pieces into each of them.
- Pour about a cup of salsa evenly over the pork tenderloin pieces.
- Cover roasting container (casserole in photos) with aluminum foil to preserve moisture.
- Preheat over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roast the pork tenderloin for about 3 hours.

Now back to the Maillard reaction. When it happens inside the body, it is a step in the formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which is not very good, as AGEs are believed to cause accelerated aging. However, the evidence that cooked meat is unhealthy, in the absence of leaky gut problems, is very slim. There are many hypothesized causes of the leaky gut syndrome, one of which is consumption of refined wheat products.

Our Paleolithic ancestors must have eaten charred meat on a regular basis, so it does not make much evolutionary sense to think that eating roasted meat leads to accelerated aging through the ingestion of AGEs. It is possible that eating charred meat caused health problems for our ancestors, and they threw their meat in the fire and then ate it charred anyway. Perhaps the health problems caused by charring were offset by the benefits of killing parasites living in meat with the heat of fire.

This is an open issue that needs much more research. Based on most of the research I have seen so far, eating roasted meat is not even in the same universe, in terms of the health problems that it can possibly generate, as is eating foods rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars (e.g., white bread, bagels, pasta, and non-diet sodas).