What's considered an acceptable breakfast meat often varies from region to region, country to country. Here in the Philadelphia region, we have a fondness for scrapple, an alternative to bacon or sausage that's a combination of scraps of pork, spices, and some variety of grain, all formed into a loaf, cut into slices, and pan fried. It's not well-known outside the mid-Atlantic region, and many people who are unfamiliar with it probably think it sounds disgusting. I can attest that it's not.
I save the indulgence of eating scrapple for once or twice a year, usually when I'm at one of New Jersey's iconic diners, but maybe I don't have to. The ingredients in scrapple sound similar to those in British or Irish black pudding, a breakfast meat that also sounds disgusting to the unfamiliar. Black pudding is turning up alongside kohlrabi and seaweed in lists of 2016's popular superfoods.
If you're skeptical of the superfood status of black pudding — a status that brings with it a connotation of being high in nutrition and excellent for your health — you're not alone. I am, too. So let's take a closer look.
What is black pudding?
Black pudding is a type of blood sausage made by blending pork fat, onions, oatmeal, flavorings and animal blood — usually from a pig, according to BBC Food. You can make your own, but much like sausage, it's a laborious process, so it's often bought ready-made and already cooked. It's traditionally sliced and gently heated on a griddle for breakfast, but it can also be used as an ingredient in lunch and dinner dishes.
Does this look like a healthy breakfast to you? (Photo: Phil Campbell/flickr)
Black pudding is often a component of what is called a full English or Irish breakfast. It accompanies foods like fried eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, ham, mushroom and toast on a very full plate.
Black pudding and nutrition
Black pudding is loaded with protein, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, according to Daily Mail, a British news site that declares the pudding is about to "fly off shelves." It's also low in carbohydrates and contains no sugar.
There's no official definition of superfood, and the term is often used for marketing purposes. Anyone can convey superfood status on a food and provide a list of nutrients to back up that claim, but it seems the first to proclaim black pudding's superfood status was MuscleFood, a British retailer of foods, not a nutritionist or a scientific study. That adds to my skepticism.
Fitbit's nutrition stats show that an average serving of black pudding (about 100 grams) is high in most of the nutrients the Daily Mail claims (though it only contains 2 percent of the daily value of magnesium, which doesn't seem high). But, the stats also says it's high in animal fat, sodium and cholesterol. In fact, 308 of the 376 calories in a serving of black pudding come from fat and a little over a third of those are saturated fat.
Is black pudding really a superfood?
Sorry, but no. It looks like the claim is a bit of a stretch.
Anyone wanting to eat a healthy diet and get the nutrients found in black pudding can certainly find them in foods lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium like spinach or seaweed.
I suppose this means my beloved scrapple isn't a superfood, either. I had high hopes for a few seconds there, but deep down, I knew the truth.
And I have a feeling that most people know black pudding really shouldn't be on a list of superfoods, either.