Apparel and saddles. That’s about it for commercial pig skin use. Except for all the tasty bits that get turned into food. According to market research, pork rinds saw a crazy rise in sales in the early 2000s, and I believe it. They’ve always been a favorite of mine. But recently, pork skin, or as the gourmands call them, pork rinds, have dipped back into snack obscurity along with chili-cheese Fritos and Maui Onion kettle chips.
Is it a question of health? Are pork rinds a healthy snack? Let’s ponder.
Who Eats Pork Rinds?
Pork rinds have not fallen from the graces of the rest of the world, and really, they haven’t slipped too terribly here in North America. They still have a large culinary following globally: chicharron with chile and lime, Lao Tham Mak Hoong (or Som Tam in Thailand), or just as a healthy alternative for Paleo eaters looking for a low-glycemic snack. But are pork rinds really healthy? They’re low-carb, for sure, but some varieties can be loaded with sodium, sugar, and full of polyunsaturated fats.
And what about those weird dots? See, on the mass market here in the US, it’s not uncommon to see a pink or blue dot on some pork rinds. And while those aren’t the most natural colors, they’re actually 100% safe-to-eat food-grade dye. It’s actually a stamp from the USDA during the inspection and grading process. So be happy if you get the rind with the stamp – your pork skin has been thoroughly tested and passed with flying colors!
Well, when A/B’d with things like potato chips, french fries, or crackers, pork rinds are probably a better bet. If you grab some plain “chicharron” in a bag. you won’t get body slammed with sodium in quite the same way. But healthy? As in, fuel for your busy lifestyle, good for your mind and body? Well, no.
If your goal is just to keep things low carb, pork rinds fit the bill. But that doesn’t make them healthy. In the same way that eating Paleo desserts isn’t “healthy,” just “healthier” than the alternative, even the “healthiest” commercial pork rinds still have way too much sodium – and not much else nutrition-wise.
You can do better. And if you’re looking for a healthy snack, may I suggest Paleo Nick’s Baked Fruit Cups?
Snack on, friends, and…
“Keep It Paleo!”