I’m not quite sure where the popularity of bacon lies these days with more and more people trending towards a plant-based diet and avoiding saturated fats. On the contrary, I think that we should still be continuing to consume animal products since that’s how we evolved – by eating animals and it’s quite literally programmed in our genes. I’m sure there scare around saturated fats is a lot more exaggerated than it should be and in fact, I believe it’s completely natural to consume saturated fat and we should. So, without further ado here are some health benefits of bacon and why I think it’s a great food to add to your diet.
Concerns With Bacon
The World Health Organisation has classed processed meats as potential carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds), and this includes bacon. However, it was stated that this classification was based on limited evidence. If I had to guess, most studies involving observations of those consuming processed meats were uncontrolled and had external environmental factors affecting whether those in the study were afflicted with cancer such as high blood sugar, being diabetic, overweight or obese.
Since the evidence is limited, I don’t think there is any large reason to be concerned or scared of consuming bacon as I’m sure there are far worse chemicals you could consume which have been synthesised in laboratories and placed into your food to make it taste good. A meta-analysis of 21 studies found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that consuming saturated fat increases risk of heart disease, but that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The majority of studies that link consumption of processed meats (not necessarily specifically bacon) to cancer and heart disease are all observational studies. They cannot prove that consuming processed meats, or more specifically bacon, causes cancer or heart disease. I think that bacon is one of the healthier processed meats to consume since it is essentially all pork with little additional ingredients added making it minimally processed.
Simple Reason To Eat Bacon
If you’re looking to reason with someone why you should consume bacon, look no further.
- It comes from an animal found in nature (minimally processed for that reason).
- It tastes friggin damn good (a sign that we should eat it).
You could argue a lot of foods taste good, but are they in their natural state in nature? Probably not. And I think this should be a key sign of whether or not we should really be consuming a particular food. If the food needs to undergo a lot of processing, the reality is, it’s probably best for your body if you don’t eat it although there are of course exceptions to this.
But now, let’s get serious!
Reasons To Eat Bacon
#1 – Contains Saturated Fat
So let’s start off with potentially the most controversial point, but please let me explain. Your body a very vast number of cells and it turns out that half of your cell membrane is composed of saturated fat, so wouldn’t it make sense that we consume saturated fat to help ensure your cell membrane is healthy? Yes, it certainly would.
A few other functions of saturated fat include:
- Providing rich fat-soluble vitamins.
- Aiding in the synthesis of essential fatty acids.
- Enhance calcium absorption.
- Improve immune function.
Not consuming saturated fat just doesn’t make sense to me and I certainly don’t think it will hurt anyone.
The graph above clearly seems to suggest there is an inverse correlation between saturated fat intake and the risk of dying from coronary heart disease. I don’t think saturated fat is quite as bad as it’s made out to be.
#2 – Can Help Regulate Appetite
Bacon is rich in both protein and fat, the two most satiating macronutrients. Both of these macronutrients play a role in appetite regulation which can help to prevent you from overeating and allow you to listen to the hunger cues presented by your body so you can better control when you stop eating.
#3 – High In Protein
By being rich in protein, bacon provides your body with the amino acids it needs for growth and repair after exercise. Protein is necessary to maintain muscle mass and stay strong since it makes up around 43% of your muscle tissue. Having a meal rich in protein shortly after exercise can be beneficial for recovery and increasing strength and muscle mass.
#4 – Lowers Blood Sugar
Since bacon is high in protein and fat whilst being low in sugar, bacon can actually help to lower blood sugar. Furthermore, by if you consume sugars or carbohydrate-rich foods with a meal containing bacon, the fat and protein content in bacon will slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream helping to keep your blood sugar low within a normal range. This will also help to regulate the secretion of insulin.
#5 – Nutrient-Rich
Bacon contains lots of nutrients such as:
These nutrients contribute to the optimum functioning of your body and are essential to living healthily. They help to boost immune function, ensures your hormones are in balance, regulate metabolism and give you energy.
Breaking Bacon Down
There are various cuts of bacon you can eat with differing amounts of fat and protein to suit your tastes and preferences. You can get all sorts of cuts such as:
- Back bacon rashers
- Bacon medallions
- Side bacon
- Middle bacon
- Cottage bacon
Nitrites, Nitrates And Nitrosamines
It’s possible to buy bacon without additives such as nitrites and nitrates, but most bacon in supermarkets will contain these compounds. Cooking bacon with these additives on high heat can form nitrosamines which are carcinogens (compounds known to cause cancer). For this reason, you want to try not to burn your bacon or overcook it.
However, you may not need to be as concerned since antioxidants like vitamin C and erythorbic acid tend to be added during the curing process which effectively reduces bacon’s nitrosamine content. Despite this, some scientists are still concerned that high intakes of nitrites and nitrates could increase cancer risk. For this reason, I suggest trying to buy nitrite or nitrate-free bacon and making sure you don’t burn your bacon.
Some bacon also has sugar added to it – I think this is absolutely unnecessary. Enjoy the bacon as it is. You don’t need sugar to make bacon tastier – I think it’s absolutely perfect in an omelette! Most people already to consume far too much sugar, so I think adding sugar to bacon is something that’s best omitted. If I’m honest, I doubt people even consciously look for bacon with sugar added to it, so I’d check the packet and avoid bacon with extra sugar.
40% of the fat in bacon is saturated fat and contains a fair amount of cholesterol. Whilst dietary cholesterol was certainly something of concern in the past, scientists now widely agree that dietary cholesterol has little effect on overall cholesterol.
Bacon has shown to be a potential carcinogen. For this reason, I suggest buying bacon which has been minimally processed. Whilst I won’t deny it tastes amazing, what it does mean is that you might be better off consuming bacon which has fewer additives and preservatives added to it. To prevent carcinogenic compounds from forming when cooking try:
- Cooking your bacon for a shorter period of time.
- Being careful not to burn your bacon.
- Frying bacon over low heat.
- Using less cooking oil (ideally not industrial seed oils).
I think you should go ahead and enjoy bacon instead of being worried about what the media makes of saturated fat and cholesterol. Lots of things are exaggerated – that doesn’t mean you should listen to them. Either way, I’m going to continue to enjoy my bacon in the form of my BIG BACON OMELETTE!
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