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Are pork bites healthy?

Pork bites, also known as pork cracklings or pork rinds, are a popular salty snack made from fried pig skin. But are these crunchy, savory treats actually good for you? Here is a comprehensive look at the nutritional profile of pork bites to help you decide if they deserve a place in a balanced diet.

What are pork bites?

Pork bites, sometimes called pork cracklings or chicharrones, are made from pork skin that is deep fried until puffed and crispy. The skin has a layer of fat under it that renders and crisps up during frying, leaving behind a crunchy texture.

Traditionally, pork bites are just seasoned with salt, but they can also be flavored with a variety of spices and seasonings. Some popular flavors include barbecue, hot and spicy, and ranch. The end result is a snack that is crispy, salty, and savory.

Nutritional profile of pork bites

The main nutrients found in pork bites are:

  • Protein – Pork skin is mostly collagen, a type of protein. Pork bites are a good source of protein.
  • Fat – Pork skin has a high fat content, both saturated and unsaturated fat. This renders out during frying.
  • Sodium – Most pork bites are heavily seasoned with salt, making them very high in sodium.
  • Cholesterol – Pork contains dietary cholesterol, which concentrates in the pork skin.

Pork bites are high in calories, providing between 90-120 calories in a 1 ounce serving. They have no carbohydrates or fiber and minimal vitamins and minerals.

Detailed nutritional values

Here is the full nutritional breakdown for a 1 ounce (28g) serving of plain pork bites (data from USDA):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 117 6%
Fat 9g 14%
Saturated fat 3.4g 17%
Protein 8.5g 17%
Carbohydrates 0.3g Less than 1%
Fiber 0g 0%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 491mg 21%
Calcium 6mg Less than 1%
Iron 0.5mg 3%

Potential benefits of pork bites

Despite their high fat and sodium content, pork bites do have some potential health benefits:

Source of protein

The collagen protein in pork skin is turned into gelatin during cooking, giving pork bites 8-12g of protein per serving. This makes them a good high-protein snack.

Keto/low carb friendly

With no carbs or fiber, pork bites can fit into low carb, keto, and other high protein diets.

Source of vitamins and minerals

Pork contains B vitamins like niacin, vitamin B12, and some minerals like phosphorus and selenium. These concentrate in the skin and provide nutrition.


The protein, fat, and salt in pork bites makes them quite satisfying. This can prevent overeating and provide lasting fullness.

Potential downsides of pork bites

There are also some potential negatives to keep in mind if you eat pork bites regularly:

High in fat

While the type of fat (monounsaturated and saturated) is not bad, the high total fat and calorie content can promote weight gain if consumed in large amounts.

High in sodium

The salt used to flavor pork bites makes them very high in sodium, with up to 30% of the daily recommended value. This can raise blood pressure.

Lack of nutrients

Other than protein, pork bites provide little nutritional value and no fiber. They are not a good source of vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants.

Fried food

The frying method used to make pork bites adds a lot of fat and calories compared to other cooking methods.

Healthiest ways to eat pork bites

Moderation is key if you want to incorporate pork bites into an otherwise healthy diet. Here are some tips:

  • Choose baked over fried – This reduces fat and calories.
  • Watch portion sizes – Stick to 1-2 ounces max per serving.
  • Pair with vegetables – Eat pork bites alongside fresh veggies for more nutrients.
  • Use dry rubs – Skip seasoned salt and go for dry spices to reduce sodium.
  • Stay active – Balance out the calories with increased exercise.

The bottom line

Pork bites can be enjoyed occasionally as part of a healthy lifestyle. In moderation, they provide protein, some vitamins and minerals, and satisfaction from their crispy, salty flavor. However, it’s best to watch portions and balance them out with more nutrient-dense foods to avoid overdoing it on fat, calories, and sodium.