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If the word "pork" brings to mind fatty indulgences like bacon and ham, think again. "The beauty of pork is that over the years farmers have bred it to be leaner and leaner," says Debra Krummel, PhD, RD, a University of Cincinnati nutrition researcher. "You can now find pork that is just as lean as chicken breast."

The leanest option is pork tenderloin, which has very little saturated fat and won't affect your bloodcholesterol levels significantly, Krummel says.

Pork is one of the richest food sources of thiamine, a B vitamin that helps the body produce energy from food. It’s also a good source of zinc, a mineral needed for immune system function. Plus, protein (whether it's in pork or other foods) helps keep hunger at bay.

Cooking Tips

Pork tenderloin is versatile, so you can make it the main dish for an elegant dinner or grill it up at a tailgate party. But because it's so lean, prepare it with care.

"I think some people get turned off because they overcook it, or they don't marinate, or they don't use a moist cooking method, and then it tastes like shoe leather," Krummel says.

She recommends using an instant-read thermometer and cooking the meat just until the internal temperature reaches 160 F as a surefire way to keep the tender in your tenderloin.

Pork Piccata

This simple but elegant recipe takes pork tenderloin on a trip to Tuscany with the classic Italian flavors of olive oil, lemon, and capers.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 pound

3 Tbsp flour

2 tsp lemon pepper

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 to 6 slices lemon, very thin

4 Tbsp capers, drained

Directions

1. Slice tenderloin into 8 equal pieces. Place pieces between sheets of plastic wrap; pound each piece to 1/8-inch thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

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