Bacon is one of the most popular processed meats around the world that was used for centuries. It’s enjoyed for its unique and smoky flavor. Americans are fond of bacon and they use it in the preparation of many dishes.

Real bacon is made from pork and there are many different types of meat bacon that are used widely around the world. Although it is delicious, some people do not prefer eating it if they do not like its taste or maybe for religious reasons.

What is bacon? How it’s made? Is it healthy or bad for health? Can diabetics eat bacon? And many questions that we will answer in the article below. 

What is bacon?

Bacon is salt-cured meat cut from a pork’s belly, back, or sides. These parts have high-fat content, so they are perfect. It can be obtained from any part of the pig except the hind leg. Americans prefer the streaky bacon, which is crispy and slightly thin. Bacon is one of the common foods that Americans use in different ways. They eat it in their breakfast and use it in many dishes.

Bacon nutrition facts 

The nutrients that are in 100 grams 

  • Calories: 541
  • Saturated fat: 14 g
  • Sodium: 1,717 mg
  • Potassium: 565 mg
  • Cholesterol: 110 mg
  • Carbs: 1.4 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g

What is bacon

Health benefits of bacon  

  • It’s a source of omega-3  

Bacon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered healthy fats that support heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes.[1]Pork as a Source of Omega-3 (n-3) Fatty Acids – PMC (nih.gov) Also, these fats are important for the brain to function properly. So, eating bacon provides the body with these healthy fats.

  • It contains small amounts of minerals and vitamins 

Bacon contains some nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. It contains selenium and phosphorus, which are important antioxidants and are essential for bone health.

In addition, the presence of B vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, all play an important role in supporting the health of the body organs.

  • It’s low in carbs and high in protein

Bacon provides the body with a good amount of protein and on the other hand, it’s very low in carbs, which makes it fits the keto diet.

Is bacon healthy?

Bacon is considered processed meat, which is not advisable to eat according to many studies. 

  • The high-fat content in bacon

Half of the fat content in bacon is saturated, which raises cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.[2]Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis – PubMed (nih.gov)

  • The risk of cancer

Eating processed meats according to the American Institute for Cancer Research is not safe and consuming them regularly may lead to increasing the risk of many kinds of cancers.[3]A prospective study of red and processed meat intake in relation to cancer risk – PubMed (nih.gov) cancers such as prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, and breast cancer.[4]Red and processed meat consumption and breast cancer: UK Biobank cohort study and meta-analysis – PubMed (nih.gov)

The preservatives that are added to the processed meat such as nitrates increases the risk of cancer. 

  • High sodium content

Bacon contains high amounts of sodium, which increases the blood pressure level. High blood pressure is related to increasing the risk of many dangerous problems. Furthermore, consuming too much sodium can increase the risk of cancer as well.

Can diabetics eat bacon?   

Diabetics should avoid or limit eating processed meats that are high in saturated fats because they increase cholesterol levels and inflammation in the body. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart diseases and strokes.

Also, the high sodium content is not healthy for diabetics because it raises the level of blood pressure, which leads to increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it’s not preferable for diabetics to eat it regularly, but they can enjoy eating it from time to time.

Read More: Can Diabetics Eat Shrimp? Benefits and Side Effects

What are bacon alternatives?

Many people ask about bacon alternatives for many reasons. They may be vegetarians or vegans. Some people do not like its taste or even for religious reasons. There are meat bacon alternatives that can be used instead. The most famous one is turkey bacon, which is used widely around the world. Also, there are salmon, venison, duck, and others. 

What are the best bacon alternatives for diabetics?

Turkey bacon can be a good option for diabetics. It’s low in fats compared to pork bacon but it still has high sodium content. Turkey bacon is highly processed, so it should be consumed in limited amounts for diabetics. Check the ingredient list always before purchasing it from the grocery stores.

Chicken bacon is also a good option for diabetics that can be used to replace pork bacon. It has lower fat content and calories than pork bacon. But like the turkey bacon is still high in sodium. The sugar content is very low, so it will not affect blood sugar levels.

Is it healthy to eat bacon every day?

Consuming bacon every day is not healthy. Since it’s a processed meat that is high in saturated fats and contains high amounts of sodium, which is not healthy and can lead to increasing the risk of many dangerous diseases. You can include it in your diet without overdoing it.

Pregnancy and Bacon

Is bacon safe to eat during pregnancy?

Pregnant women can enjoy eating bacon but it should be cooked properly. But some researchers suggest that it may not be safe for pregnant women for many reasons including:

  • It is carcinogen

Some studies show that eating processed meat that contains nitroso compounds during pregnancy may increase the risk of childhood cancers and autism. [5]A meta-analysis of maternal cured meat consumption during pregnancy and the risk of childhood brain tumors – PubMed (nih.gov)

  • Processed meats contain listeria

Listeria is a kind of bad bacteria that grows in bacon, which can cause dangerous problems during pregnancy.

  • Bacon may affect hormones

It’s a real concern that eating bacon may cause changes in hormones during pregnancy, which may result in the unhealthy growth of the baby. 

  • It may raise cholesterol and blood pressure

High cholesterol is not healthy for pregnant women and may affect blood flow to some body organs. In addition, the high sodium content is not recommended for pregnant women.

  • Unhealthy preservatives

Bacon, like all processed meats, is full of preservatives and harmful compounds that are not healthy especially for pregnant women.

Does bacon cause allergies?

It’s rare to happen, but some people are allergic to pork, which means they should avoid eating pork and the products that are related like bacon. 

Last words

Bacon is one of the foods that are controversial because it is used by millions of people all over the world and at the same time, it’s not recommended by doctors due to the fact of being an unhealthy option.

But, the truth is if you like it, you can eat it from time to time, and enjoy its taste. 

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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