Bacon: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, Is It Healthy?, January 10, 2012
bacon
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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