Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple for many, but it’s no secret that it’s not the healthiest option out there. While it may be a good source of protein, it’s also high in fat and calories. And let’s not forget about the sodium content.
But what about uncured bacon? Is it a healthier alternative? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how much sodium is in uncured bacon and whether or not it’s a better option for your breakfast plate.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
How Much Sodium In Uncured Bacon?
When it comes to sodium content, uncured bacon is often touted as a healthier option compared to its cured counterpart. But just how much sodium does it contain?
First, let’s define what we mean by “uncured” bacon. Uncured bacon is bacon that hasn’t been preserved with sodium nitrites, which are commonly used in the curing process of traditional bacon. Instead, uncured bacon is typically cured with natural sources of nitrites, such as celery powder.
While the absence of sodium nitrites may lead some to believe that uncured bacon is lower in sodium, that’s not always the case. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 3-ounce serving of uncured bacon contains an average of 360 milligrams of sodium. This is only slightly less than the 400 milligrams of sodium found in a 3-ounce serving of traditional cured bacon.
It’s important to note that the sodium content can vary depending on the brand and type of uncured bacon. Some may contain more or less sodium than others, so it’s always a good idea to check the nutrition label before making a purchase.
What Is Uncured Bacon?
Uncured bacon is bacon that has not been cured with sodium nitrites, which are commonly used in the curing process of traditional bacon. Instead, uncured bacon is typically cured with natural sources of nitrites, such as celery powder. The process of making uncured bacon involves injecting pork belly with a brine of salt, sugar, and natural curing agents like cultured celery powder. This brine can include flavorings such as herbs and spices. The pork sits in this solution between 12 and 24 hours, absorbing the brine’s flavors and developing bacterial resistance. After the curing process, the bacon is partially cooked during smoking and must be fully cooked before consumption.
It’s important to note that while uncured bacon is often touted as a healthier option compared to its cured counterpart, it may not necessarily be lower in sodium. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of uncured bacon contains an average of 360 milligrams of sodium, which is only slightly less than the 400 milligrams of sodium found in a 3-ounce serving of traditional cured bacon. However, the sodium content can vary depending on the brand and type of uncured bacon, so it’s always a good idea to check the nutrition label before making a purchase.
Sodium Content In Traditional Cured Bacon
Traditional cured bacon is known for its high sodium content, with a 3-slice serving (34.5 grams) containing 579 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA. This is a significant amount of sodium, as the recommended daily intake for adults is no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. Excessive sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues.
The curing process of traditional bacon involves the use of sodium nitrites, which not only add flavor and color to the bacon but also act as a preservative. During the curing process, the bacon is soaked in a brine solution that contains salt and sodium nitrite. The salt helps to draw out moisture from the meat, which helps to preserve it, while the sodium nitrite prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.
In addition to the sodium content from the curing process, traditional bacon can also contain added salt during the cooking process. This can further increase the sodium content of the final product.
It’s worth noting that there are variations in the sodium content of traditional bacon depending on factors such as the production process and type of bacon. For example, pork bacon that is cooked, reduced-sodium, smoked or cured contains 433 calories per 80-gram serving and 88 milligrams of cholesterol. This serving also contains 579 milligrams of sodium, which is still a significant amount.
How Is Uncured Bacon Different?
While the sodium content of uncured bacon may not be significantly lower than that of traditional cured bacon, there are still some differences between the two. As mentioned earlier, uncured bacon is typically cured with natural sources of nitrites, such as celery powder, instead of sodium nitrites. This may make it a more appealing option for those who are concerned about consuming synthetic additives.
Additionally, uncured bacon may have a slightly different taste and texture compared to traditional cured bacon. Since it is typically left in a more natural state, it may have a more pork-like flavor and be saltier due to the longer curing process required to achieve preservation.
Sodium Content In Uncured Bacon
When it comes to uncured bacon, the sodium content can be a concern for those watching their salt intake. While it may seem like a healthier option due to the lack of sodium nitrites, uncured bacon can still contain a significant amount of sodium.
According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of uncured bacon contains an average of 360 milligrams of sodium. This is only slightly less than the 400 milligrams of sodium found in a 3-ounce serving of traditional cured bacon. It’s important to keep in mind that this is still a significant amount of sodium, especially for those who are on a low-sodium diet or have high blood pressure.
It’s also worth noting that the sodium content can vary depending on the brand and type of uncured bacon. Some brands may use more or less salt in their curing process, which can affect the overall sodium content. It’s always a good idea to check the nutrition label and compare different brands to find the option with the lowest sodium content.
Health Benefits Of Choosing Uncured Bacon
While uncured bacon may not necessarily be lower in sodium than cured bacon, there are still potential health benefits to choosing this option.
One of the main reasons people opt for uncured bacon is to avoid the use of artificial nitrites. While natural sources of nitrites, such as celery powder, are still used in the curing process, some people prefer to avoid the potential health risks associated with synthetic nitrites.
Additionally, uncured bacon may be a better option for those with certain dietary restrictions or preferences. For example, some people may avoid cured meats due to religious or cultural reasons. Others may choose uncured bacon as part of a paleo or whole foods-based diet.
It’s also worth noting that while bacon is often associated with negative health effects due to its high levels of saturated fat and sodium, it can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Choosing uncured bacon may be one way to enjoy this tasty treat while minimizing potential health risks associated with artificial nitrites.
Other Factors To Consider When Choosing Bacon
Aside from sodium content, there are other factors to consider when choosing bacon. One important factor is the quality of the bacon. Premium quality bacon is typically made with better ingredients and a longer curing process, resulting in a more flavorful and higher quality product. On the other hand, factory-produced bacon may contain artificial flavorings and chemicals that can affect the taste and quality of the meat.
Another factor to consider is the thickness of the bacon slices. Thick-cut bacon is often preferred by many for its crispy exterior and meaty interior. It also contains equal amounts of fat and protein, providing a delicious balance of flavor in every bite. Thicker cuts may cost more, but they are worth the extra expense for their superior taste and ease of cooking.
When purchasing bacon, it’s important to check for any signs of spoilage or damage to the packaging. Bacon should appear pink in color and have a smoky scent. If it looks gray, green, moldy, or has a sour odor, it should be avoided. Additionally, if the package bears an expiration date, it’s best to purchase the package before that date expires and refrigerate it immediately at 40°F (4.4°C) or below.