Okay right off the bat I’m going to say that no matter what I write in this article, people will disagree with it! The problem with any kind of dietary advise is that there are just so many different kinds of diets out there and many have hugely conflicting goals.
If you’re a vegan, you’re just not going to be eating any bacon, ever! But if you’re on a Paleo diet, or Ketogenic then the chances are that it features highly in your diet!
So in this article I will try to be objective and state the facts, and how they work in to various kinds of diets.
High in Fat & Cholesterol
Most kinds of bacon are very high in fat, much of which is saturated. There are exceptions; Canadian bacon is generally very lean and therefore is mostly protein. Similarly in the UK and other parts of Europe you can find back bacon cut into’medallions’ that are also trimmed of visible fat.
And of course, if you use substitutes such as turkey bacon, you’ll find that to be very low in fat. In general though, it has a very high fat content which can be bad news for some people. For example, those who have had Gallbladder surgery must follow an extremely strict low fat diet for a considerable length of time following the procedure. If you are one of those, sorry, no bacon for you!
Other risk factors for foods that are high in fat and specifically cholesterol, would be people who have any history of heart disease, stroke, or who already have an elevated cholesterol level. For these people the leaner cuts of bacon would probably be alright if they are cooked with a method that does not add more fat.
Low (Zero) Carbohydrate
But then let’s take the complete opposite – people who are highly sensitive to carbohydrates and prefer a much higher fat content, such as those in the Ketogenic community. This kind of diet would require that as much as 70% of your daily calories are consumed from fat and you’ll find numerous recipes around the internet for ‘fat bombs’ which are small bites of food that are extremely high in fat. Bacon would fit in well here!
Keto is fairly extreme and certainly a minority but many people find that in general, having a ‘moderate’ intake of carbs is best especially when balanced with protein and lots of fruits and vegetables.
The leaner cuts of bacon, or bacon which has had much of it’s fat rendered out such as when cooking with the Bacon Express Toaster, are high in protein.
If you are looking to increase your muscle mass, a moderate to high protein diet is required and bacon makes a very tasty addition to the diet!
High Sodium Content & Nitrates
Sodium is salt, and in large quantities this can be detrimental to health. For those with high blood pressure, a low sodium diet is needed and in this case, even the lean cuts of bacon would not be recommended.
The reason for the high salt content is that bacon is a cured pork product and the curing process means that the meat is soaked in a salt solution. This curing solution usually also contains nitrates and nitrites, which are not generally harmful by themselves but when cooked at a high heat, can form into compounds called nitrosamines which are harmful and have been linked to cancer.
Fortunately it is not all bad news; there are many brands of bacon now that are nitrate-free and just used salt in the curing, and also Vitamin C can be added which reduces the resulting nitrosamine content.
Any food which is high in protein and fat, and is low in carbohydrate will help keep you full for longer. This is one of the reasons why carbs have lost favor in the last few decades with the weight loss community. People have now realised that if you lower the carbs in the diet and start increasing protein and introducing some fat, that you don’t need to eat as much, feel full more of the time, don’t have the desire to snack as much and simply find losing weight easier.
So if you’re somebody who has a high carb breakfast such as toast or cereal in the morning and find yourself ravenously hungry at 10am, try swapping it out with some bacon and eggs instead and see how that makes you feel!
Believe it or not, bacon actually contains a lot of beneficial nutrients:
- Potassium – this is one of those minerals that many people are deficient in. 100g will give you 17% of the RDA.
- Selenium – responsible for improving function of the thyroid, boosting the immune system, improving DNA function and more. 100g provides a whopping 93% of the RDA!
- Oleic Acid – this is the fatty acid which Olive oil is famous for. Well guess what? Bacon contains the same stuff; yes, the same kind of fat which is in Olive oil, which many refer to as a healthy oil!
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1) – plays an important role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. 100g provides 31% of the RDA.
- Choline – another essential mineral which is often lacking because it is primarily contained in fatty animal foods.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) – a vitamin with great cardiovascular benefits. It raises HDL levels and lowers triglycirides, protects against the hardening of the arteries and can offset Alzheimer’s disease. 100 provides 58% of the RDA.
Bacon also contains small amount of Pentothenate (Vitamin B5), Iron, Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Magnesium, and Zinc.