Bacon: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, Is It Healthy?, January 10, 2012
Can bacon be part of a healthy diet?

Some folks love it, others cringe at the very thought. Smoked and cured fatty cuts of meat aren’t typically considered nutritious, but can this pork delicacy be part of a healthy diet?

Nutrition Facts
One slice of regular cut-bacon (about 1-ounce) has 35 calories, 3 grams of total fat (1 gram of saturated fat), and 145 milligrams of sodium, which is about 6 percent of the daily recommendation. No-so-healthy preservatives called nitrates are often added to packaged bacon to prevent growth of bacteria and to maintain color. You may be able to find nitrate free bacon at your local butcher, farmers’ market or high-end grocer.

Why We Love Bacon
The upside to bacon – its flavor! While salt and grease won’t do your waistline any favors, your taste buds may feel differently. Instead of noshing on slice after slice of oily pan-fried strips, use a modest amount to flavor an entire dish. Soups, pasta, sauteed vegetables and egg dishes can all get a flavor boost from a slice or two. Rendering a small amount of fat in the pan before adding other ingredients allows you to cash in on the flavor without going overboard.

If you do have a yen for a slice or two on a sandwich, bake in the oven on a baking rack (like Ina Garten does in this recipe). This way your bacon won’t be swimming in grease.

Gobble or Oink?
Some brands of turkey bacon may be lower in fat than traditional pork cuts but they can also be higher in sodium. There are lots of variations across brands, so read labels carefully.

Pork-derived Canadian bacon from the back of the animal is also a leaner choice. Its cured and salty and a nice choice for breakfast sandwiches and quiche.

Bottom Line: Whichever bacon you choose, modest portions are key.

Tell Us: Do you squeal for bacon?

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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (940)

  1. I buy my favorite package of bacon (strips) and then I cut the whole package in half so I use less. The strips cut in half cook much quicker and it last longer. I love the bacon flavor. Fry some cabbage quickly in the bacon grease, then cover and steam it with a little water, sugar and your favorite vinegar! mmm…

  2. J. O'Connor says:

    I buy sliced pork belly, cut off the thin layer of skin that's on one side and rub it with a little salt, pepper and brown sugar or maple syrup. When ready to cook, I microwave to parcook and remove alot of the fat and then finish it off in the pan with the eggs. Delicious and no chemicals! This can also be done with very thinly sliced pork tenderloin for even less fat.

  3. Marsha says:

    I cooked chicken & dumplings but the taste is to salty. What can I do to fix that saltiness?

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    I tried Turkey bacon…once. I'll just workout harder. Turkey bacon was like eating cardboard.

    • DeLois says:

      Amen to that Matt. Spin class is my appropriate punishment for indulging with bacon!!

    • Mary says:

      I have to agree … Turkey bacon … You might as well eat no bacon . But on the WW diet you can eat a strip of bacon if you crisp it up and drain it on a paper towel .

    • DaisyBeagle says:

      Try the Oscar Mayer turkey bacon and cook in the microwave between 2 paper towels to crisp. It is really good. I have gotten to where I prefer it to regular bacon!

  5. Tammy says:

    The animal can't sweat and therefore, all the toxins remain within the body. The Bible even tells us not to eat pork and it has nothing to do with being Jewish. It has everything to do with eating what is healthy for us.

  6. Evelyn says:

    This has nothing to do with how bad bacon is for us, or how good it tastes, my friends husband calls it "natures perfect food". If I make any I use the microwave with viva sheets over and under it. They absorb all the fatty oil. Since it freezes well, I just use on or two slices to flavor something and freeze the rest in single wrapped strips.

  7. Joanne says:

    You can get Bacon with out the nitrates, that is how I buy it. My husband has Gout and can't have the nitrates.
    BJ's wholesale house has a lot of meat with out the nitrates.

  8. Suzan says:

    Bacon, ahhh, part of the breakfast of champions. I also love hog jowl bacon. I use hog jowls with my black-eyed peas for New Year's. But, because of health concerns, I'm very careful how much I eat. My daughter makes the best baked beans with bacon. Yum…

  9. Patricia says:

    I bought the microwave bacon cooker that you hang the bacon on to cook so most of the fat goes to the bottom of the plastic pan. Forgot what they call it. Also buy low sodium bacon when I buy it.

  10. southernvegan says:

    Bacon is a personal choice. People eat it because it tastes good and has the desired smoky flavor they crave. I do not eat bacon out of personal choice. But not everyone has the will power or discipline to make or keep that decision. If you are eating healthy, you are probably avoiding the bacon, if you are giving into your desires, you are probably eating the bacon with both hands. Your body will tell when it is time to give up the bacon or continue to eat it.

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