There's not much argument about the deliciousness of bacon. Whether you like it crispy or chewy, with scrambled eggs, stacked on a BLT, or wrapped around sweet dates, bacon is mmm-mmmm-good. But is bacon healthy? In my kitchen, yes indeed.
Allow me to dispel the common misconceptions about one of the most loved and feared foods on earth, and then you can decide for yourself.
BACON MYTH #1
Bacon is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol so it will clog my arteries and kill me
FACT: If you're a “show me the studies” kind of person – diets high in saturated fat actually have been shown increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol and not affect LDL, the “bad” cholesterol (Journal of American College of Nutrition, 2004).
Cholesterol does not clog arteries. It's essential for many functions in the body, including hormone production and regulation, proper digestion, and immune health. A fairly recent study actually shows that lowering cholesterol has no effect on plaque build-up in the arteries (American Journal of Cardiology, 2003). The modern epidemic of heart disease, should not be blamed on bacon, butter, and cream, but on unhealthy vegetable fats such as margarine, canola, corn, and soy oils as well as the grocery aisles of other processed foods.
If you're more of an experiential learner, start eating high quality bacon from pastured pigs regularly as part of a nutrient dense, junk free diet. You'll feel awesome and won't die, I promise. At least not from the bacon.
BACON MYTH #2
Eating bacon will make me fat
FACT: Eating anything in excess will make you fat, but the reality is, when you eat nutrient dense foods rich in saturated fat, your body will become satiated faster and for a longer period of time than when you eat a low-fat, nutrient deficient meal like corn flakes with low fat milk or even a bowl of fruit and non fat yogurt.
It tends to be the carbs, sugar, and processed foods that make us fat because we can eat and eat and eat them and never feel satisfied for long, so we eat and eat some more. This means that – yes – bacon can be an important part of a healthy weight loss plan.
BACON MYTH #3
Pigs are filthy animals and so pork is an unhealthy food
FACT: Pigs like to play in mud, but that doesn't contaminate pork. All conventionally raised meat should be avoided, but if you buy organic, humanely-raised pork from pigs that have eaten a natural diet and enjoyed sunlight, you are actually eating an extremely nutrient dense food rich in vitamin D.
If you are Jewish or Muslim, you may choose not to eat pork because it is against your religion. Some will use these principles to justify health reasons to avoid pork – God bless them and their choices, and pass the bacon.
BACON MYTH #4
I avoid bacon because it's all filled with unhealthy additives.
FACT: Conventional bacon is filled with junk you don't want to eat. Oscar Mayer cures their “Naturally hardwood smoked” bacon with: Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite.
An organic brand such as Applegate farms uses: Water, Sea Salt, and less than 2% Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup, Celery Powder – that sounds good to me. Even better, get to know your local farmer and ask her where her pigs live, what they eat, and how the bacon is cured – usually the more “homegrown” the less junk.
In my humble opinion, bacon is one of those foods that makes life worth living even before you believe it's a health food too. Try to get yours from a local farmer whose pigs eat natural diets and snort outside in the sunshine for maximum vitamin D. It should be cured without nitrates and a bunch of chemicals. Eat it with joy, eat it with abandon, but eat bacon. It's so good.
What do YOU think…is bacon healthy?