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Is Bacon Good for You?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/08/2018

You aren’t alone if you love the smell and taste of bacon—it’s the most popular pork product across the globe. Bacon delivers sweet, salty, and umami flavors all at once, making it so palatable and delicious.


Many believe bacon is unhealthy—but it actually has some surprising health benefits! In fact, it’s on our Healthy Keto® Food List.


Let’s look at the health benefits of bacon and how to choose the right kind. 

cooked bacon

Is bacon healthy?


You may have heard that consuming bacon and other processed meat products harms your health and increases your risk of cancer and heart disease. This is a common misconception.


Bacon contains saturated fats, and it was previously believed that this type of fat increases the risk of heart disease. However, the claim that saturated fat is bad for heart health has since been refuted


Bacon and other types of processed meat tend to be cured with sodium nitrite, a chemical compound linked to the development of colon cancer and high blood pressure. It’s important to distinguish that the curing method increases the risk of adverse health effects, not the bacon itself.


Eating high-quality bacon as part of a healthy diet doesn’t pose health risks. Bacon is surprisingly nutritious and rich in healthy fats, B vitamins, and essential minerals.


Watch the video below to learn what to look for when choosing bacon so you can get the best quality meat and avoid harmful nitrites.

Five health benefits of bacon


Bacon’s nutritional profile is excellent for keto. It’s carb-free and provides plenty of healthy fats and essential nutrients, including B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorus.  


Here are five reasons why you should enjoy bacon as part of a healthy diet.


1. Contains healthy fats

Around 50% of bacon fat are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid, the same fatty acid found in extra virgin olive oil. Oleic acid raises heart-healthy HDL cholesterol, which lowers the risk of arterial plaque formation, stroke, and heart attacks. 


A diet high in monounsaturated fats is linked to balanced blood sugar control, healthy weight, lower inflammation, and improved blood lipids.  


Bacon is high in saturated fats, which, contrary to common belief, isn’t bad. Saturated fats are essential for the structure of all your cell membranes and support a healthy immune system.


Organic pork belly is notably high in omega-3 fatty acids, a fat commonly found in oily fish, seeds, and nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy blood vessels, balance cholesterol levels, and lower inflammation. 



2. Rich in essential nutrients 

Bacon is a rich source of nutrients. A typical serving of around 100 grams of cooked bacon contains 90% of your daily selenium requirement and 50% of your daily phosphorus requirement.


Selenium is a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells and DNA from premature aging and may lower your risk of certain cancers. 


Like all red meat, bacon provides essential nutrients that boost your metabolism, including iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.

Fried egg and bacon

3. Supports satiety and weight-loss

Bacon’s high-fat content increases satiety and curbs hunger, supporting weight loss and a healthy waistline. 


Dietary fat digestion takes time. Meals containing high amounts of fat remain longer in your digestive tract than high-carb meals. This promotes satiety and makes you feel fuller for longer, helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.


Bacon is an excellent food if you are doing intermittent fasting. If you struggle to stick to your fasting periods or get hungry between meals, add bacon to your menu to maintain your fast and avoid snacking in between meals. 



4. Helps to maintain ketosis 

Bacon is naturally high in fat and doesn’t contain carbs, making it an excellent keto-friendly food. 


Eating bacon won’t raise your blood sugar levels and doesn’t trigger insulin production. Insulin is your primary metabolic hormone—it’s in charge of fat storage and determining how your body produces energy.


High-fat foods, including bacon, keep insulin levels low and maintain ketosis, meaning that your metabolism burns fat instead of carbs for energy. Ketosis helps you lose weight fast, increases energy, and supports healthy cognition and memory.



5. Promotes healthy moods 

Bacon is among the top dietary sources of choline, an antioxidant that protects your brain and nervous system from oxidative damage.


Choline is neuroprotective and lowers inflammation in your brain, which is crucial for your neuronal health, memory function, and stable moods. 


Choline is converted to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates brain function. Low levels of acetylcholine are linked to common mental disorders, cognitive decline, and increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. 

smoked bacon

How to choose healthy bacon


Bacon is traditionally made from fresh cuts of pork belly. But if you want to try non-pork bacon, you can choose from a variety of beef, duck, or turkey bacon. 


Canadian bacon is cut from pork loin instead of pork belly and contains less fat than traditional bacon.


Cured bacon products typically are preserved with nitrites. In contrast, uncured bacon doesn’t contain nitrites and has been preserved with celery power instead. 


Nitrates and nitrites are chemical compounds used to increase bacon’s shelf-life and preserve texture and color. However, consuming synthetic nitrites is linked to the development of colon cancer, so you want to avoid nitrite-containing processed meats as much as possible.


Ideally, choose organic bacon cured with celery powder. A certified organic meat label ensures that livestock have access to pastures, are fed a 100% organic and GMO-free diet, and aren’t given growth hormones to accelerate maturation.


You also want to check on the sugar content of your bacon. It isn’t uncommon that bacon contains syrup or sugar glazes to preserve color and enhance flavor. Read nutrition labels and always choose sugar-free bacon.

asparagus wrapped in bacon

Key takeaways


Eating bacon as part of a nutritious diet like Healthy Keto® supports satiety, helps you lose weight, and promotes cognitive health.


Bacon is a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, and oleic acid, which are linked to healthy cholesterol levels and reduced inflammation.  


Avoid bacon products containing nitrites, which may cause adverse health effects. Choose uncured, organic bacon instead.




FAQ


1. Is it healthy to eat bacon?

Bacon has gained a bad reputation because some historical research linked red and processed meat consumption with increased risk of cancer and heart disease. However, this claim has since been invalidated. 


Bacon is a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, selenium, and phosphorus. As part of a healthy diet, bacon promotes satiety and healthy weight, balances blood lipid levels, and can boost your mood. 


2. Can I eat bacon every day?

Uncured, organic bacon preserved with celery powder can be part of your daily menu plan. 


However, remember that bacon is energy-dense and high in calories. Overeating bacon can quickly exceed your energy requirements leading to unwanted weight gain.


3. Is bacon keto-friendly?

Bacon is an excellent keto food. It’s high in healthy fats and has moderate amounts of protein. Read labels to avoid bacon products containing syrups or sugars added to enhance color and flavor. 


4. Is bacon bad for cholesterol?

Bacon contains cholesterol, but you don’t need to be concerned about raising your cholesterol levels.


The claim that dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol levels has long been disproven. Your liver adjusts cholesterol production whenever you consume dietary cholesterol, keeping cholesterol in a healthy range. 


5. Is bacon good for weight loss?

Yes, bacon is a great choice to support weight loss.


The high amounts of fat in bacon slow down digestion, increasing satiety and curbing hunger. Feeling fuller for longer helps you to avoid snacking, supports intermittent fasting periods, and promotes weight loss.


6. What kind of bacon is healthiest?

Choose uncured and organic bacon whenever possible. Uncured bacon doesn't contain nitrites, a synthetic compound used to cure processed meats and linked to cancer development.


7. Is crispy bacon healthier?

No, crispy bacon is cooked at high heat, which melts many of the healthy fats in bacon. To take advantage of bacon's many health benefits, don't overcook your bacon.


8. How much bacon is too much?

That depends on your overall diet, activity levels, and energy needs. However, moderate amounts of organic, uncured bacon as part of a nutritious and balanced diet won't lead to weight gain or cause adverse health effects.

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