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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.


Join The Conversation
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
Nitrates or not, I just don't think I could give it up! I do only have it once a week though, mostly b/c of the high fat content.
aoitenshi aoitenshi 9 years
I crave for bacon once in a while. It's just so good! I love German franks and Hungarian sausages too, but now that I know about the nitrites, I'm going to try harder to stay away from them.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
i eat bacon 1 a year :) that's the advantage of growing up in europe.
Shibi Shibi 9 years
Hmmm, we say that around my house as well. Everything really WAS better with bacon. Tofurkey, anyone?
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I'm not a big bacon eater, but I do sometimes eat turkey bacon. I should check and see if the turkey bacon I eat has nitrates in it.
Ikandy Ikandy 9 years
Nitrates=scary...How do we avoid them? Its impossible to avoid processed food...Id luv to cut them out completely, but who, with a normal life, has time to cook every single thing from scratch and eat organic all the time. Its really hard for me cuz I have allergies to food preservatives such as processed soy, nitrates and sulphites...
juju4 juju4 9 years
I do think that a little bacon can add a LOT of flavor, and it's not that bad fat/calorie wise if used sparingly. Obviously, I wouldn't eat it every day but if they sprinkle a strip's worth of bacon on my otherwise healthy salad, it really ups the "satisfaction" factor.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
It tastes so good though. MMMMmmmmm...I so want a nice BLT right now. Too bad that would totally throw me off my diet. BOO. I say every once in a blue moon it's not so bad to eat it. I still wouldn't eat it every day, or even week or month. I too am surprised that it's not nearly as bad as I thought it was.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
At least I'm not a HUGE fan of bacon...
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 9 years
I'm glad I don't eat bacon.
sugar_me_sweet sugar_me_sweet 9 years
that picture of the bacon is making me crave for it too
sugar_me_sweet sugar_me_sweet 9 years
anything processed is my weakness
orangeflower orangeflower 9 years
Most processed meats have nitrates. I'm preg. and I'm supposed to limit--cut out any processed meats b/c of the nitrates. At first i thought it was just hot dogs, so I tried turkey ones and kibasa, but when I asked my doc he told me that they all have it, so watch out! scary!
workofiction workofiction 9 years
Wonder if Boca or Gardenburger makes a faux bacon?
saraEK saraEK 9 years
What about Jenny-0 fat free turkey bacon? I never used to eat bacon of any kind, but after I read The South Beach Diet I started making fat free turkey bacon once a week. Is that bad?
oinkoink oinkoink 9 years
I just had a bacon, egg, sausage and cheese sandwich right now for breakfast. I don't eat this everyday but it taste so very good. It's ok to splurge once in a while. Don't deny yourself bacon. Life is too short!
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
I'm not much of a meat eater, but do love bacon once or twice a year, mmm. I've known about the nitrate issue for awhile and do buy nitrate-free bacon for those big holiday breakfasts, but was totally surprised that bacon is way healthier than I thought. I always added it to the butter category of fatty foods.
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
If you're REALLY craving bacon I suggest that you try some Spanish ham or some bresaeola (spelling?) as you can easily just remove the fat without removing the taste...
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