Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple around the world, but in recent years, its reputation has taken a hit.
The World Health Organisation’s classification of processed meats as a group one carcinogen has left many questioning the health implications of consuming bacon.
And while bacon from different countries may look and taste different, is there really a difference in terms of its nutritional value?
In this article, we’ll explore why Australian bacon has gained a reputation for being particularly unhealthy and what makes it different from bacon in other countries.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in.
Why Is Australian Bacon So Bad?
When it comes to bacon, Australians have a particular type that they love. However, this type of bacon has gained a reputation for being particularly unhealthy.
One of the main reasons for this is the curing process. Bacon is cured using nitrates and nitrites, which are commonly used as preservatives. However, these compounds can form carcinogenic compounds that increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Research conducted by the World Health Organisation estimated that every 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of bowel cancer by about 18 per cent. This is a significant concern for those who consume bacon regularly.
Furthermore, like all cured meats, Australian bacon is high in salt, which contributes to high blood pressure. The streaky and tail varieties are also very high in saturated fat, which is not good for our cholesterol.
Another factor that sets Australian bacon apart from other types of bacon is its appearance. Unlike British bacon, which is translucent when held up to the light and has a red colour, Australian bacon is opaque and pink, giving it the appearance of ham.
This difference in appearance is due to the curing process used in Australia. Traditional methods of curing bacon without nitrates and nitrites result in a different taste and texture that many Australians find unappealing.
The Processed Meat Controversy: What Makes Bacon So Bad For You?
The processed meat controversy surrounding bacon has been a topic of discussion for years. The use of chemical preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites, in the curing process of bacon has been linked to an increased risk of developing colon and stomach cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified bacon as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it is known to cause cancer.
The risk associated with bacon consumption is largely due to the formation of cancer-causing compounds that can result from the use of nitrates and nitrites. These compounds can also increase the risk of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and dying from all types of cancer. Even consuming as little as half a serving of processed meat a day has been linked to a 21% increased risk of breast cancer in women.
In addition to the risk of cancer, consuming bacon and other processed meats also increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease due to their high salt and saturated fat content. Excessive salt intake has been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer and may raise blood pressure in people with salt sensitivity.
While some people argue that bacon contains “good fats,” the amount of saturated fat it contains far outweighs any potential benefits. It’s important to choose lean cuts of red and processed meats and keep servings small if they are consumed at all.
The Rise Of Australian Bacon: How Did It Become So Popular?
Despite its reputation for being unhealthy, bacon remains a popular breakfast food in Australia. Almost 50 per cent of Australians have purchased bacon in the past week, according to recent research. But how did it become so popular?
The origins of bacon in Australia can be traced back to British food culture, which has always been a significant influence in Australia. In the UK, bacon had become a staple working-class breakfast by the 1840s, and the full English breakfast was a source of national identity.
Australians were already eating bacon to some extent, but it was not until the 1920s that bacon became a popular breakfast food. This was due to the success of PR tactics used by Edward Bernays in the US to champion bacon as a health food. Bernays’ tactics were the same ones that allowed bacon to be re-invented as a health food by turbo protein diet fads like Atkins, paleo and keto.
The popularity of bacon in Australia was also influenced by American food culture, which came to Australia in various ways. Even Greek cafes are credited with Americanising our eating habits at the start of the twentieth century.
However, despite its popularity, Australian bacon has gained a reputation for being particularly unhealthy due to its curing process. The use of nitrates and nitrites as preservatives can form carcinogenic compounds that increase the risk of bowel cancer. Additionally, Australian bacon is high in salt and saturated fat, which is not good for our health.
The Differences In Production: How Australian Bacon Is Made
The production of Australian bacon differs from traditional methods due to the use of nitrates and nitrites in the curing process. The process begins with the selection of pork belly or loin, which is then trimmed of excess fat. The meat is then rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar, and nitrites before being left to cure for several days.
After the curing process, the bacon is washed with warm water to remove any excess salt and nitrites. It is then dried and smoked using various types of wood to give it a distinct flavour. Once the smoking process is complete, the bacon is sliced and packaged for sale.
However, some mass-produced bacon in Australia is cured using injections of salty water, which can also include chemicals such as potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate, and ascorbic acid. This method is used to increase the weight of the bacon, making it more profitable for manufacturers.
This method of production has led to concerns about the quality and nutritional value of Australian bacon. The use of nitrates and nitrites in the curing process has been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer, while the high salt and saturated fat content can contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Despite these concerns, many Australians still enjoy bacon as a staple breakfast food. To ensure that you are purchasing Australian-grown bacon that is healthier and more sustainable, look for the pink ‘Australian Pork’ label or check the bar chart underneath the green and gold kangaroo on packaging. If the bar is 90% full or more, you can be sure you’re buying Australian pork.
The Nutritional Value Of Australian Bacon: Why It’s Not As Healthy As You Think
Although bacon is a popular food in Australia, it is not as healthy as many people may believe. Two slices of Australian bacon contain 70 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 30 mg of cholesterol, and 360 mg of sodium. This high amount of saturated fat and sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Moreover, Australian bacon is cured using nitrates and nitrites, which can form carcinogenic compounds that increase the risk of bowel cancer. This risk is particularly concerning for those who consume bacon regularly. Additionally, Australian bacon is high in salt, contributing to the high levels of sodium.
While some may argue that bacon can be consumed in moderation, it is important to consider the potential health risks associated with frequent consumption. Therefore, it is recommended to limit the consumption of Australian bacon and opt for healthier alternatives such as turkey bacon or plant-based alternatives.
Comparing Bacon From Around The World: How Does Australian Bacon Stack Up?
When it comes to bacon, there are many different types available around the world. In the United States, bacon is typically cut into strips and is made from pork belly. In the United Kingdom, bacon is usually made from back bacon and has a different appearance than Australian bacon.
Australian bacon is typically made from middle bacon and has a longer shape than American bacon. It also has what looks like a tail and is often thicker than other types of bacon. However, compared to other types of bacon, Australian bacon is considered to be less fatty.
In terms of taste, Australian bacon has a unique flavour due to the curing process used. While some people find the taste of Australian bacon to be delicious, others find it unappealing. This is because traditional methods of curing bacon without nitrates and nitrites result in a different taste and texture.
When it comes to health, Australian bacon has been criticized for its high salt content and saturated fat. This makes it less healthy than other types of bacon, such as Canadian bacon, which is taken from the lean back loin rather than the fatty belly.
The Future Of Bacon: Can We Make It Healthier?
With the concerns surrounding the health risks associated with bacon consumption, many are wondering if there is a way to make this beloved meat healthier. One potential solution is to find alternatives to the use of nitrates and nitrites in the curing process.
While nitrates and nitrites are commonly used as preservatives, there are natural alternatives that can be used instead. For example, celery juice or powder contains naturally occurring nitrates and can be used as a substitute for traditional curing methods. However, it’s important to note that even “uncured” or “no nitrate/nitrite added” bacon can still contain high levels of these compounds due to the use of natural substitutes.
Another approach to making bacon healthier is to focus on the fat content. Cooking methods that reduce the amount of fat in bacon, such as microwaving or baking on a rack, can help make it a bit healthier. Additionally, choosing less fatty cuts of pork, such as Canadian bacon, can also be a good option.
It’s worth noting that recent studies have challenged the notion that red meat consumption, including bacon, is inherently unhealthy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that moderation is key when it comes to any type of food. As Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietitian at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center advises, “All things in moderation.”