Is Bacon A Healthy Choice?
Bacon is consumed by a lot of people but they do wonder if it’s healthy for them or not. Let us find out whether bacon is healthy or not.
Bacon- How it is made?
Bacon is commonly made from pork, which is pig meat. You might also find bacon made from other animal meats like turkey. Bacon undergoes a typical curing process in which it is soaked in a solution of salt, spices, nitrates and even sugar. In certain cases it is also smoked later. This curing process is carried out to preserve the meat. The high salt content wards off bacteria and nitrates preserve the red color along with fighting the bacteria. So, bacon is a processed meat.
Bacon has fats but mostly the good ones!
50% of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated with a large part being oleic acid. Olive oil is known to contain this fatty acid, which is considered heart healthy. About 40% of the fat in bacon is saturated fat along with cholesterol. But there is nothing to fear as saturated fat is not harmful (Read more on that here!) and the dietary cholesterol will not affect the cholesterol in the blood. 10% of the fats are polyunsaturated fatty acids, mostly omega-6. These are known to be the bad fats in bacon.
Bacon is nutritious
A 100 g portion of bacon (cooked) has the following:
- 37 g of animal protein of high quality
- B vitamins
- Selenium (89% of the RDA)
- Phosphorus (53% of the RDA)
- Minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium
Bacon has high amounts of sodium which can be a problem for those who already have a raised blood pressure. However, it shouldn’t be a issue for healthy individuals.
Nitrates in bacon
Nitrates are not artificial compounds. Our bodies have loads of them and their biggest sources are veggies. Yes, veggies are packed with nitrates!
There are concerns that when exposed to high heat nitrates form carcinogens called nitrosamine but the potential benefits of nitrosamines outweigh the harmful effects.
What do studies say?
When it comes to processed meats like bacon, there are concerns. Observational studies show that there is a link between cancer, heart disease and the consumption of processed meat. There is a connection with cardiovascular disease too. In yet another study it was found that regular meat had no effect but processed meat was related to diabetes.
But those who consume processed meat are most likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle and food habits. Thus, conclusions cannot be drawn but the studies also cannot be ignored!
Making the right choices
Just like most meats, the quality of the final product depends on what the animals were fed with and how the meat was processed. You get the best bacon from pigs that are pasture-raised. If possible go in for the bacon that is traditionally processed because lesser the artificial ingredients in the food, the better.
The bottom line
Studies do show links of bacon with cancer and heart disease but the studies cannot prove causation. Bacon may not be completely harmful but it can’t be regarded as being totally healthy either. This is because it is a processed meat and anything processed can’t be called totally healthy! It is ultimately for you to decide whether you want to include this meat in your diet or not!
Do you eat bacon?
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