There is a notion that the best tasting foods in the world are the ones that are the unhealthiest. We know this isn’t necessarily true, but for those who are trying to maintain a healthier diet, it might feel just like that. After all, most people only crave for foods that are either rich in sugar, rich in salt, or just rich in fats. One of these guilty pleasures also has a reputation for being one of the best tasting foods in the world. Bacon has always been looked at as delicious yet dangerous. However, recent studies are suggesting that bacon may actually be not as bad as people think it is.
To understand how bacon can be a healthy addition to any diet, it’s important to first know what it is and where it comes from. Traditional bacon, as most people know it to be, is a pork product that is usually cured. Curing is a process of preservation using large amounts of salt. Depending on the area where it comes from, different cuts of meat are used to make bacon. In North America, the pork belly is typically used. In other parts of the world, bacon may be made out of the fatback or side cuts as well. Some of these other parts are meatier and leaner compared to the fatty pork belly. Also depending on which part of the world it is prepared, bacon may be cooked differently. It can be eaten fried, boiled, smoked, baked or even grilled.
Everyone knows that the best parts of bacon are the fatty parts. That’s where all the savory flavors come from after being cured. People have always believed that bacon is bad because it is fatty. However, research has shown that the half of the fats in bacon is made up of good fats, also known as monounsaturated fats. The monounsaturated fats in bacon are largely made up of oleic acid, the same type of fatty acid that can be found in olive oil. Oleic acid plays an important role in controlling insulin and glucose in the body, which helps in diabetes prevention or control. The rest of the fats in bacon come from a mixture of saturated fats and cholesterol. These are not harmful, and as long as bacon comes from clean and responsible sources, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Nutrition in Bacon
Believe it or not, bacon can be fairly nutritious as well. It is known that any type of meat contains good amount of nutrition, and bacon is no exception. A single 100-gram serving of cooked bacon can have over 35 grams of protein. This is a healthy dose of protein to cover at least a third of the recommended daily average intake. Bacon also boasts tons of B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. These nutrients keep our bodies energized as they assist in converting our food to fuel that the body can burn up. In addition, the same single serving of bacon can provide 89% of the recommended daily intake of selenium. Selenium has tremendous antioxidant properties that help protect the body’s cells from any type of damage. Bacon also contains good amounts of phosphorus. Adequate amounts of phosphorous are important in maintaining healthy bones, and a single serving of bacon can provide over 50% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Healthy Bacon Options
Even the tastiest and fattiest kinds of bacon have beneficial properties. It is good to know, however, that there are healthier alternatives as well. There’s a way to enjoy the great taste of bacon without having to feel guilty about it. Some bacon are made out of pork loin, which is a much leaner alternative. Back bacon tends to have less fat altogether compared to its pork belly counterpart. Cottage bacon is cut from pork shoulder and is also leaner in general. Other alternatives include bacon that is made out of other types of meat. Turkey bacon is famous for being one of the leanest types of bacon. Turkey bacon is usually incorporated into lean diets. Nowadays, there are also beef bacon alternatives for those who are on a strict no-pork diet.
Still, whatever kind of meat is used for bacon, it is important to purchase bacon from clean sources. After all, it matters greatly what type of environment and conditions animals live in before they are used for food. Pigs that are commercially fed tend to be unhealthy to begin with, and their unhealthiness gets passed on when consumed by people. Pastured pigs or any animals that grow without the assistance of antibiotics will be better to use as meats. Also, animals that live in environments that are more conducive to natural healthy living are better options for meat than the rest.
The Best Way to Eat Bacon
As with everything else, bacon should also be consumed in moderation. After all, too much of any good thing can easily become bad. The same notion goes for bacon as well. Also, there are ways to rethink how bacon should be prepared and eaten as well. Fortunately, bacon will taste good regardless of whether it is fried or not. In America, people are used to having fried bacon as a side for breakfast. However, there are plenty other ways to prepare bacon without frying it. Bacon will taste just as good baked or grilled, without the addition of extra fat.
Bacon can definitely be part of a healthy diet as long as it is consumed in moderation. It is also best to purchase bacon that came from clean and healthy, even organic meats. There is no need to eliminate bacon from any diets entirely. Matter of fact, bacon can even provide nutrients that can keep the body in optimal condition. As long as bacon is combined with other healthy food items, there is no need to not enjoy the deliciousness of bacon.
DeYoung, J. (2013). “Bacon’s rise demands attention to quality”. Iowa Farmer Today. Cedar Rapids: IFT Publications.