Pork Brains: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Eat

By Thomas Wrona Updated on

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Pork brains are incredibly nutritious, easy to cook with, and surprisingly easy to find. Just as importantly, pork brain offers health benefits that you just can’t get from any other food. 

In this article, we’ll explore pork brain’s nutrient content and accompanying benefits. 

What are Pork Brains?

Pork brains, as you might expect, are merely the harvested brains of a pig — intended for use as food. 

Pork brain is surprisingly common in many regional cuisines, especially southern cuisine. They play a significant role in the concept of nose-to-tail eating.

Pork Brains Nutrition

Pork brain is an excellent source of healthy fats, proteins, and dietary cholesterol. Here’s a closer look at its macronutrient and micronutrient profiles. 

Pork Brain Macronutrient Nutrition 

3 OUNCES PORK BRAIN (85G)
TOTAL CALORIES 127
TOTAL FAT9.2 grams
SATURATED FAT2.1 grams
TRANS FAT0.0 grams
CHOLESTEROL2,195 milligrams
SODIUM120 milligrams
POTASSIUM258 milligrams
CARBOHYDRATES0.0 grams
NET CARBS0.0 grams
SUGAR0 grams
PROTEIN10.3 grams

Fat

Of all three major macronutrients, pork brain really shines when it comes to providing healthy fat. 

65% of its calories come from fat — far higher than other organ or muscle meats. The fat in pork brain is rich in DHA and other essential fatty acids. 

The brain of a pig may also be lower in inflammatory omega 6 fats than its muscle meat.

Protein

Pork brain is lower in protein than most organ meats, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  

The protein it does contain is a truly complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. Complete proteins are more valuable for maintaining muscle mass and triggering satiety than incomplete ones.

The high fat to protein ratio also makes pork brains an ideal food for ketogenic and carnivore diets that call for around 80% of calories to come from fat. 

Carbohydrates

Pork brain contains virtually no carbohydrates. A 3-ounce serving of brain contains 0 grams of carbs and 0 grams of fiber, making it a great addition to your carnivore diet food list!

Pork Brain Micronutrient Nutrition

NUTRIENT3 OUNCES PORK BRAINS (85G)%RDV
IRON0.7 milligrams9%
MAGNESIUM16 milligrams4% 
PHOSPHORUS196 milligrams28%
ZINC0.8 milligrams8%
COPPER108 micrograms12%
THIAMIN0.1 milligrams10%
RIBOFLAVIN (B2)1 milligram16%
NIACIN3.4 milligrams21%
FOLATE4.3 micrograms2%
VITAMIN B60.1 milligrams10%
VITAMIN B120.7 micrograms37%

B12

3 ounces of pork brain contains over a third of your vitamin B12 RDA. 

Combine brain with eggs (recipe coming soon) or grass-fed beef, and you’ll be well on your way to ideal B12 status. 

Many people find that vitamin B12 makes them feel energized and more fully alive. Studies have shown that it helps keep cells energized.

B2 (Riboflavin)

3 ounces of pork brain contains over a tenth of your RDV for B2. That may not seem like a lot, but calorie-for-calorie brain is actually quite rich in B2 and other water-soluble B vitamins. 

Together these vitamins promote proper cellular respiration and help you overcome fatigue.

Cholesterol

Pork brain is nature’s top source of dietary cholesterol. Just 100 grams of it contains over ten times the cholesterol RDV.  But don’t let this outdated RDV scare you. Studies show that dietary cholesterol has very little if any effect on blood cholesterol levels and associated risk of heart disease.

Our bodies use this purified cholesterol to produce ultra-important hormones like progesterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA.

Cholesterol is a precursor and transporter for many other vitamins, minerals, and hormones, and neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Cholesterol provides so many essential structural and supply-chain solutions within our bodies that it’s been correlated with happiness, intelligence, and well-being.

Other studies have confirmed that official guidelines for what’s considered healthy serum cholesterol are too low. 

People with ‘high’ cholesterol often possess higher “verbal fluency, attention/concentration, abstract reasoning, and a composite score measuring multiple cognitive domains” than those with cholesterol in the ‘ideal’ range.  

Last but not least, cholesterol is even good for the skin. Progressive dermatologists have realized that dietary cholesterol can give your skin a naturally glowy, dewy shine. 

Other Unique Nutrients in Pork Brains

Pork brain also contains several special nutrients, including phosphatidylserine, phosphatisphingomyelin, and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).  

BDNF in particular aids the brain in creating new neural connections, repairing faulty brain cells, and protecting healthy brain cells. 

Adequate levels of BDNF are associated with reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Hormones

In addition to being incredibly rich in the precursor to important youth-associated hormones (i.e, cholesterol), brain is a great source of these hormones themselves. 

According to endocrinologist Ray Peat, “the brain is also the richest source of these very water-insoluble (hydrophobic) steroid hormones; it has a concentration about 20 times higher than the serum, for example. The active thyroid hormone is also concentrated many-fold in the brain.”

Possible Drawbacks 

Just one word of caution when it comes to pork brain’s nutrient profile: it’s very high in phosphorus and very low in calcium. 

This ratio is important for maintaining bone density.

In fact, his meat may have the worst calcium: phosphorus ratio of any food. Consider viewing this food as more of a supplement and consuming it no more than a few times a week.

Health Benefits 

Many people find that the pork brain provides a tangible energy rush post-meal. That’s no surprise when considering pork brains nutrition. In fact, you can expect all sorts of health benefits:

Mood-Boosting

The B vitamins in pork brains are known for the mood-boosting, body-energizing effects. Fittingly, B vitamins are also shown to help clear protein byproducts like homocysteine out of your brain. Lowering homocysteine may be especially helpful for those with depression.  

Hormone-Balancing

Both men and women may benefit from pork brain’s ability to boost the body’s levels of DHEA, progesterone, and pregnenolone.

Let’s take a look at these hormones one-by-one. 

DHEA

DHEA is an important hormone that blocks the catabolic (i.e, destructive) effects of cortisol. It also stimulates bone growth, improves thermogenesis, and promotes circulation.

Progesterone

Progesterone is much more than just a ‘pregnancy hormone’ — though it’s especially important at that time. 

Progesterone protects the immune system’s thymus gland, adrenal gland, and thyroid. Progesterone is also notoriously good for your skin.

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone counters the fibrotic effects of aging and helps keep muscles relaxed and integrated. Once ingested (via brain of a select few other foods, like eggs), pregnenolone is converted into progesterone and/or DHEA.

Pregnenolone also shines in the area of natural skincare, promoting a ‘face-lifting’ effect thanks to its ability to activate dormant muscles. 

Other Pork Brain benefits

It’s likely that pork brain benefits our brains in yet-to-be-discovered ways, too. 

As naturopathic doctor Ron Schmid explains, “radioisotope labeling studies in animals have shown conclusively that, when eaten, organs and glands selectively travel to the corresponding organs and glands in high concentrations. This research, done at the University of Scotland in Edinburgh, lends credence to the ancient practice of eating animal organs to help ensure health in one’s corresponding organs.” 

In other words, eating the brains of animals is probably a fantastic way to nourish your own brain’s health — even though some of the mechanisms for this haven’t yet been discovered by science. 

Sourcing Quality Pork Brains

Quality is everything when it comes to sourcing pork brain. Animals that were poorly treated during their lives may have high levels of fibrosis or stress hormones in their brains. 

Eating the brain of such an animal is probably not the best choice, especially given that research in other species has found that physiological memories can be transferred via proteins from one creature to the next.

Don’t forget the importance of going pasture-raised, either. Pasture-raised pork brain may be higher in saturated fats and lower in inflammatory PUFAs than other varieties — the potential for lower stress levels notwithstanding.  

If you can’t source quality pork brains, you may have better luck with grass-fed beef brain, since grass-fed beef is more widely available than pasture-raised pork. 

How to Cook Pork Brains

Below are two of our favorite pork brain recipes. 

Pork Brains and Eggs Recipe

A Southeastern special, pork brains and eggs is nourising while offering the full-spectrum pork brains nutrition. 

Ingredients

  • I set brains
  • 6 eggs 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste

Process

  1. Wash the brain and remove all of its outer membranes.
  2. Soak the brain for 1 hour in a pot of salted, cold water.
  3. Pour the water out, but keep the brain in the pot.
  4. Add fresh cold water and bring the brain to a boil. 
  5. Boil for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Drain the pot, then plunge the brain into cold water to cool. 
  7. Remove the brain from water and slice it into thin pieces.
  8. Place cooked brain into a mixing bowl with eggs. 
  9. Place butter onto a heated skillet. 
  10. Pour the brains and eggs into the skillet, stirring often.
  11. Cook until eggs are just barely “set up.”
  12. Enjoy!

Pork Brains with Milk Gravy Recipe

Pork Brains with milk gravy

This recipe is for the more culinarily-adventurous, but don’t be afraid to try it! 

Ingredients

  • 1 pork brain
  • 1/4 cup tallow
  • 1/4 cup coconut or tapioca flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Milk (for soaking)
  •  Salt and pepper to taste

Process

  1. Wash the brain and remove all of its outer membranes.
  2. Soak the brain for 12 hours in a pot of milk.
  3. Pour the milk out, but keep the brain in the pot.
  4. Soak the brain a second time for 1+ hours in milk scented with nutmeg.
  5. Poach the brains in milk for 20 minutes. 
  6. Cool brains, strain from milk, and refrigerate.
  7. Remove tallow from fridge and place on high heat.
  8. Stir in flour, cream, and salt and pepper. 
  9. Once the mixture develops a creamy consistency, add brains back in. 
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve warm & enjoy!

The Takeaway

Pork brains provide your body with some of the most important nutrients for boosting mood and improving cognition. They’re rich in cholesterol, healthy fats, and complete proteins. 

If you haven’t already tried pork brain, don’t be afraid to cross it off your organ meats bucket list!

 

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