Bacon – it’s a breakfast staple that many of us just can’t resist. But let’s face it, bacon isn’t exactly known for being a healthy food choice.
It’s high in fat, calories, sodium, and nitrates. However, fear not bacon lovers! There are healthier options out there that still taste great.
In this article, we’ll explore the world of bacon and discover which type of bacon is the healthiest for you. From uncured to center cut to turkey bacon, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision about your breakfast indulgence.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about the healthiest bacon options out there.
Which Is The Healthiest Bacon?
When it comes to bacon, the healthiest option is uncured, reduced-sodium center cut bacon. This type of bacon is free from added sodium nitrate, which is commonly used to preserve and color bacon. While the research on nitrates is not conclusive, it’s better to err on the side of caution and choose nitrate-free options.
Center cut bacon is also a healthier choice because it contains less fat than traditional bacon. With center cut bacon, you get more meat than fat, making it a leaner option. And by choosing a reduced-sodium version, you can cut down on your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor.
While turkey bacon may seem like a healthier option, most varieties are preserved with synthetic nitrates or nitrites, which can increase the risk of certain cancers. Even “natural” varieties of turkey bacon use natural sources of nitrates that can still contribute to nitrosamine formation.
It’s also important to remember that all types of bacon should be enjoyed in moderation. Reserve bacon for special occasions and pair it with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And don’t forget to stay hydrated and consume potassium-rich foods to manage the effects of sodium.
What Makes Bacon Unhealthy?
Bacon has gained a reputation as an unhealthy food due to its high levels of saturated fat and sodium. Saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, while high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and stroke. Bacon also contains nitrates or nitrites, which are added to preserve shelf life and enhance color. Diets high in processed meats, such as bacon, have been linked to chronic health conditions including migraines, asthma, heart failure, kidney disease, and several types of cancer.
Even bacon labeled as “uncured” or “no nitrate or nitrite added” can still contain high levels of these potentially harmful chemicals. This is because these products are often treated with celery juice or celery powder, which naturally contain high levels of nitrates. Additionally, some studies have linked processed meat products with cancer and heart disease.
While bacon is a good source of healthy animal fats, quality proteins, and hard-to-get nutrients, it’s important to consume it in moderation. Choosing uncured, reduced-sodium center cut bacon can be a healthier option since it contains less fat than traditional bacon and is free from added sodium nitrate. However, all types of bacon should be reserved for special occasions and paired with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Uncured Bacon: A Healthier Alternative
If you’re looking for an even healthier option, uncured bacon is a great alternative. This type of bacon is still cured with salt, but it doesn’t contain nitrites, which are on the nutrition no-no list. Nitrites have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, so choosing uncured bacon can be a safer option.
Some uncured bacon brands use natural sources of nitrates, such as celery powder or sea salt, instead of synthetic nitrites. However, it’s important to note that the research on whether natural nitrates are any better for us is still inconclusive. It’s always a good idea to read the ingredient list and choose products that you feel comfortable with putting in your body.
Uncured bacon is also free from GMO ingredients, antibiotics, and hormones. This makes it a healthier choice for both you and the environment. Many customers also rate uncured bacon highly for its taste and quality.
Center Cut Bacon: The Leaner Option
Center cut bacon is a great option for those looking for a leaner bacon choice. It is cut from the center of the pork belly, which is meatier and leaner than other parts. Compared to regular bacon from the same brand, center cut bacon contains about 25 to 30 percent less fat. This makes it a healthier option for those looking to decrease their fat or saturated fat intake.
In addition to being leaner, center cut bacon is also higher in protein than regular bacon. It contains about 10 fewer calories per serving and 15 fewer calories from fat. However, it’s important to note that the serving size for center cut bacon is smaller than that of regular bacon, so it’s essential to check the serving sizes when monitoring your fat and calorie intake.
When shopping for center cut bacon, look for options that are nitrate-free and have lower sodium content. These options are healthier and safer than those containing synthetic nitrates, which can increase the risk of certain cancers. By choosing center cut bacon, you can enjoy the delicious flavor of bacon while making a healthier choice for your body.
Turkey Bacon: The Lowest Calorie Option
If you are looking for a low-calorie option when it comes to bacon, turkey bacon is a suitable choice. Compared to traditional pork bacon, turkey bacon is lower in calories and fat while being higher in protein. A 2-ounce serving of turkey bacon contains roughly 218 calories, while the same serving size of pork bacon contains 268 calories. Additionally, the overall fat content in turkey bacon is significantly lower than pork bacon, with 14 grams of fat compared to 22 grams in pork bacon.
However, it’s important to note that the level of saturated fat in turkey bacon is still relatively high, with 4 grams per serving compared to 8 grams in pork bacon. High saturated fat intake contributes to heart disease, so it’s important to consume turkey bacon in moderation.
While turkey bacon may not be as nutritionally superior as some marketing tactics may suggest, it can still be a practical dietary choice for those looking to trim calories and reduce their saturated fat intake. If you choose to consume turkey bacon, look for brands that use higher-quality ingredients, fewer preservatives, and less sodium. And as with all types of bacon, enjoy it in moderation and pair it with nutrient-rich foods for a balanced diet.
Comparing Sodium And Nitrate Levels
When it comes to bacon, one of the biggest concerns is the sodium and nitrate levels. Sodium is a mineral that is essential for our body, but too much of it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Nitrates, on the other hand, are chemicals that are commonly used to cure bacon and other meats. While nitrates can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and give bacon its characteristic pink color, they can also form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic compounds.
Most bacon on supermarket shelves is cured with salt and nitrites, both of which are on the nutrition no-no list. Uncured bacon is still cured with salt but not with nitrites, making it somewhat healthier. However, it’s still full of sodium and saturated fat. To make matters worse, some bacon brands contain up to 20% of your daily value of sodium in just two slices.
When shopping for the healthiest bacon, watch out for thick-cut bacon as it contains more sodium, fat, and calories than thin-cut bacon. Also, look for sodium ascorbate on the label, which indicates that cheap “pumping” was used during production. This means that the amount of free nitrate in the product was reduced by adding sodium ascorbate.
While turkey bacon may seem like a healthier option, most varieties contain synthetic nitrates or nitrites that can increase the risk of certain cancers. The best option is to choose uncured center cut bacon with reduced sodium levels. By doing so, you can cut down on your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor and enjoy a leaner cut of meat with more meat than fat.
Tips For Choosing And Preparing Healthier Bacon
Here are some tips for choosing and preparing healthier bacon:
1. Look for uncured bacon: Choose bacon that is free from added sodium nitrate, which is commonly used to preserve and color bacon. This type of bacon is known as uncured bacon and is a healthier option.
2. Choose center cut bacon: Center cut bacon is a leaner option than traditional bacon because it contains less fat. With center cut bacon, you get more meat than fat, making it a healthier choice.
3. Opt for reduced-sodium versions: By choosing a reduced-sodium version of bacon, you can cut down on your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. This is especially important since most types of bacon are high in sodium.
4. Cook bacon until crispy: The healthiest way to cook bacon is to cook it until crispy (but not burned), which allows the most fat to melt off. Then, drain it on a paper towel or brown paper bag to remove even more fat before eating.
5. Enjoy in moderation: Remember that all types of bacon should be enjoyed in moderation. Reserve bacon for special occasions and pair it with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And don’t forget to stay hydrated and consume potassium-rich foods to manage the effects of sodium.