Bacon, bacon, every where.
Nor any strip to eat.
– The Rime of the Ancient Dieter
We live in a world where we are surrounded by bacon. Bacon is everywhere; tempting us, teasing us, and taunting us. We “know” that bacon is unhealthy, as it’s presence on fast food burgers seems to prove. When we diet, we say bye bye bacon, just as we say goodbye to daily candy bars, ice cream binges, and weekly beer benders. But, do we have to? Bacon is delicious, but is that enough to convict it?
Is bacon truly the bad guy that’s it’s made out to be?
Many of the strikes against delicious bacon are myths and/or outdated science. The mere fact that it’s delicious also makes people assume it’s bad for us. Delicious AND healthy? Too good to be true!
Let’s take a look…
Too salty – Unless you have an issue with salt, why are you trying to minimize your sodium intake? Don’t get me wrong, I look at the labels on boxes, too. A box or can with tons of sodium is a sign that the stuff within might be a poor quality food. Non-salt sodium (like MSG, for instance) is used to enhance flavor without making things too salty on the tongue. Why do the need to enhance flavor? Because it’s a poor quality food, probably. Bacon is different. Salt is part of the curing and preserving process. Low sodium bacon isn’t bacon at all, and isn’t worth eating.
If you’re truly concerned with your salt intake, I urge you to read Chris Kresser’s series on salt myths.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted on salt intake, and a consistent pattern has never been established for sodium’s role in a variety of negative health outcomes.
– Chris Kresser
Nitrates/Nitrites – Do you know that nitrate and nitrite “free” bacon still contain nitrates and nitrites? In fact, many actually contain more of them. The difference is that the precursor to nitrates and nitrates (like celery seed) are added to the uncured bacon and allowed to become nitrates and nitrites on their own. As such, nitrates and nitrites aren’t listed on the ingredient labels, either. Trust me, they are there. En mass.
Ok, but does this mean you should avoid all bacon (and sausage, hot dogs, etc)? Well, if so, then you should also avoid leafy greens and many vegetables, as they contain far more of both than bacon does (Food sources of nitrates and nitrites).
Too fatty – Is it really? The average slice of bacon contains just 40 calories, 3g of protein, and 3g of fat. Compare this to a sausage link which is often 90 calories and almost all fat. Which is more satisfying, 4 slices of bacon or just two measly little sausage links?
Saturated fat -Even mainstream media is starting to forget the mantra against saturated fat, but it’s been ingrained in us since the 60’s and 70’s, and is hard to forget. It’s a bad habit to avoid this necessary fat. Yes, it’s necessary for our health, and avoiding it for 40 years has only made our society sicker and fatter, while heart disease has actually gotten worse, not better.
But aren’t there studies that show _______?
When investigators analyzed the relationship between saturated fat intake, serum cholesterol and heart attack risk, they were so disappointed that they never formally published the results.
– Stephan Guyenet, PhD, Does Dietary Saturated Fat Increase Blood Cholesterol?
Cholesterol – We’ve recently rescued the poor egg yolk from the drains of our kitchen sinks, and now it’s time to embrace the dietary cholesterol in meat and dairy as benign, not the evil that it was once was made out to be. Even if you aren’t sure that blood levels of cholesterol aren’t important factors, please know that dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on what happens to your blood cholesterol readings (again, read the link under “Saturated fat” for more info on the whole “lipid hypothesis” myth).
It’s pork – Yes, this is a barrier if you have an allergy, aversion, or religious conviction against pork, but why is it that people use “it’s pork” as if it’s a legitimate reason unto itself? No one says “but steak is beef” and leaves it at that, yet when I suggest that clients eat bacon… Strangely, they never say that about pork chops or ham. It’s a mental thing because bacon has been vilified all these years. …and is so delicious.
In conclusion – It’s okay to have bacon.
What? I can eat bacon? OMG!
– my clients, Galya’s clients, and all the other successful dieters who stop watching Dr. Oz
Turkey bacon – It’s not bacon, as the taste illustrates. Do you like it? Go ahead, but take a look at the ingredients. They often have more “junk” than the worst bacon. Eater beware.
Beef bacon – Only if you can’t eat pork. See “Turkey bacon” for the possible downsides, which are similar.
Bacon bits – Sometimes it’s real bacon, but often not. Even when it’s real bacon, how do they make it shelf stable? Funny and disturbing… Make your own and keep it in the freezer or fridge.
“Healthy” bacon – If it’s truly made without salt, sodium, nitrates, and nitrates, it likely tastes terrible, but even those that claim to be free of these things might still have them in ways that aren’t listed on the label. Read this article from the top again for more info.
Bacon is too
Maybe for some people, but if you have it as part of a healthy diet, and share the package with family or friends, it’s likely that it fits right into your diet. There are few downsides to bacon, unless you cook the whole thing at eat it yourself. Even then, if you do, you’ll be full for hours. 🙂
No, the biggest danger from bacon is the splatters as you cook it! Let the fryer beware!
What are you thoughts on bacon? Favorite brand? Favorite recipe? Please share…
I love you for this! I had my own crispy bacon bits in my dinner tonight and it was amazing, then to see this post in my news feed = pure win! plus my house still smells like bacon! yum!
i learned a recipe last summer that is so awesome with bacon. Steamed Red Potatoes mixed with halved cherry tomatoes, red onions, BACON, red onion. Serve over big bed of Arugula and pour some homemade vinegrette all over.
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Those both sound great!
I have to apologize for the late comment back. The comment notifications were going to lala land! 🙂
It is irresponsible to refer people to an acupuncturist’s website (Chris Kresser) for health tips. Acupuncturists are not trained in scientific method, statistics, medicine, nutrition, or interpreting scientific studies.