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Is Bacon REALLY That Bad For Me?

At my house we jokingly say, "Everything tastes better with bacon." While the taste factor of bacon might be high, its health factor is quite low.

The fat in the bacon is what gives it that flavor you love, and makes it fry up crispy. One bacon strip contains about 40 calories, 3.5g of fat, 1.7g of saturated fat, 7.5mg of cholesterol, 120mg of sodium, and 2.5g of protein. The meat is cured and smoked before you buy it.

Nutritionally speaking, it is high in sodium and has a moderate amount of saturated fat, but the thing you have to watch out for when it comes to bacon is the nitrates (also called nitrites like sodium nitrite). It's a preservative used in processed food to help maintain its color.

Nitrates can be found in bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and cold cuts. The reason they are so bad for us is that when we cook them at high temps, they form Nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. In the news, nitrite-based preservatives were found to be linked to pancreatic cancer.

Why else are nitrates unhealthy? To find out

The high content of nitrites may also contribute to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In COPD, changes occur in your lungs that make it harder to breathe over time.

Fit's Tips: So I'm sorry to burst your bacon-loving bubble, but the brands preserved with sodium nitrite really are unhealthy for you. If you don't want to give up this favorite breakfast food, look for nitrite-free bacon and other processed meats at your local health food or grocery store. Also avoid ordering it when you go out, since there's no way to know if it's free of nitrites or not.


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