Pork belly is a popular meat dish in world cuisine. You can find pork belly all over the world in different cultures — from guo bao (pork belly bao buns) to flæskesteg (Danish pork roast) and Lechon kawali (Filipino deep-fried pork belly).

Its rich flavor and versatility make pork belly a popular option at home and in many restaurants.

As its name suggests, pork belly is a fatty piece of meat. This may make you wonder whether it’s healthy and whether it provides any nutritional benefits.

This article explores all you need to know about pork belly, including its nutrition, benefits, and potential downsides.

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Pork belly is a boneless cut of meat that comes from the underside of a hog’s belly.

Once the butcher has removed the spareribs and loin from the pig, the tender pork belly may be left over. This may explain its lower price at your local meat market.

Because pork belly has a high fat content, it’s best when prepared in any of the following ways:

  • slow-roasting
  • oven-roasting
  • braising
  • stewing
  • deep-frying
  • grilling
  • smoking
  • pan-searing

If you want the most tender pork belly, you may opt for a slow, moist cooking method such as braising or stewing.

These cooking methods distinguish pork belly from bacon, which is pork belly with its skin removed that has been cured, salted, and smoked. Chefs often pan-fry bacon or cook it in the oven.


Pork belly is a boneless, fatty cut that comes from the underside of a hog’s belly. You can cook it in a variety of ways, such as slow-roasting, braising, stewing, or grilling.

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of pork belly provides (1):

  • Calories: 585
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Total fat: 60 grams
  • Saturated fat: 22 grams
  • Sodium: 36.2 mg
  • Thiamine (B1): 37.3% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Riboflavin (B2): 21% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 33% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 5.8% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 8.6% of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 39.5% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 3% of the DV
  • Iron: 3.3% of the DV
  • Zinc: 10.5% of the DV
  • Copper: 6.6% of the DV

Because pork belly consists mostly of fat, this serving size packs up to 585 calories, 60 grams of total fat, and 22 grams of saturated fat (1).

However, it’s also an excellent source of B vitamins, as well as a source of other important nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, iron, and copper (1).

Plus, pork belly is very low in sodium, providing only 36.2 mg per serving. Some recipes may boost the sodium content, so take note of how you prepare your pork belly (1).


Though pork belly is high in calories and fat, it provides B vitamins, zinc, and other nutrients.

Compared with other pork cuts, pork belly is higher in fat and lower in protein.

Here’s a comparison of pork belly and two other pork cuts of the same serving size (4 ounces or 113 grams) (1, 2, 3):

Pork bellyPork loinHam (smoked, honey-glazed)
Protein11 grams24 grams20.3 grams
Total fat60 grams9.5 grams2.7 grams
Saturated fat22 grams3 grams1 gram

These cuts contain similar amounts of the same nutrients, such as B vitamins, iron, and zinc (2, 3).


Compared with the same serving size of other pork cuts, pork belly is higher in calories and fat but lower in protein.

There are many culinary benefits to pork belly.


Pork belly is well known for its succulent, rich flavor.

You can deepen the rich, savory taste of pork belly by slow-cooking it so that the fat renders and breaks down.

Considering pork belly’s strong fatty taste, you may want to serve your dish with light, fresh ingredients such as cucumber, lettuce, citrus, herbs, and pickled onions.


Pork belly’s versatility makes it a popular ingredient in dishes from many cultures.

You can find it in sandwiches, stuffed buns, stews, hot pot, ramen, tacos, tamales, and many more dishes. It’s also served by itself either roasted, barbecued, or deep-fried.

Moreover, many dishes use crispy pork belly as a garnish.

Cost effectiveness

If you’re searching for a delicious yet affordable cut of meat, pork belly is a great option. It’s cheaper than other pork cuts such as tenderloin and loin.


You may find that pork belly is a perfect dinner option due to its versatility, rich flavor, and low cost.

Though there are some notable benefits of pork belly, there are also a few downsides.

High in calories

Because pork belly contains so much fat, it’s high in calories. It has roughly 585 calories per 4 ounces (113 grams) (1).

Therefore, it may not be a great option for people trying to lose weight or decrease calorie intake.

However, if you enjoy pork belly on rare occasions, it’s unlikely to affect any weight loss goals you may have.

High in saturated fat

Compared with other cuts of pork, pork belly contains more saturated fat.

While saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet, a South Korean study on pork belly intake suggests lowering your total calories from saturated fat. That’s because it may be linked to numerous health conditions, including heart disease (4).

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of pork belly has 22 grams of saturated fat, or almost 10% of calories from saturated fat based on a 2,000-calorie diet (1).

Therefore, you may decide to eat pork belly only on special occasions or to consume smaller portions.

Low in protein

Pork belly is lower in protein than other cuts of pork.

For example, pork loin contains an impressive 24 grams of protein per 4-ounce (113-gram) serving. Pork belly contains only 10 grams for the same serving size (1, 2).

If you’re looking to increase your protein intake, opt for other pork cuts, such as pork loin, pork tenderloin, ribs, or ham.


Pork belly is high in calories, total fat, and saturated fat but lower in protein than other pork cuts. Therefore, it may not be the best cut of pork if you’re watching your weight or looking to reduce your fat intake.

Pork belly is known for its succulent flavor, versatility, and low cost — all of which help make it a staple ingredient in many world cuisines.

However, compared with other cuts of pork, pork belly contains more calories, total fat, and saturated fat. Furthermore, it contains about half as much protein as other pork cuts.

If you enjoy eating pork belly, it may be best to keep portion sizes small and to eat it on special occasions.

Just one thing

Try this today: If you’re interested in pork belly, find a recipe that piques your interest and try making it. If you want a night out, numerous restaurants serve pork belly.

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