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Can tasty bacon be incorporated into a healthy diet? We’re not here to tell you all that you should make bacon a daily indulgence. We just want to clean its rep up a bit in honour of National Bacon Day. People commonly think that bacon equals fat, unhealthy people. These unhealthy people order double sides of it with their English breakfasts and are first in line at McDonalds to taste their latest meat heavy extravaganza. So is it really as bad for us as we really think or can we continue to bring home the bacon?
Bacon contains choline. Researchers have recently discovered that choline helps fetal brain development during the time when a fetus develops its hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory . So mums-to-be shouldn’t be afraid of bacon. You can add it to salads or have a small side of bacon with breakfast occasionally, provided it’s part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Bacon is rich in B6, B12, niacin, thiamine, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and protein. Enjoying leaner cuts will cut down on fat and calories.
As we all know bacon is incredibly salty; that’s what makes those rashers so tasty. Unfortunately, it’s that tasty high salt content which makes bacon so bad for you. With just two rashers of back bacon containing more than half your daily recommendation of salt , your daily morning sarnie could greatly increase your risk of high blood pressure . Having a high blood pressure puts extra strain on your arteries, which increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes or kidney disease.
What differentiates bacon from ham is its curing process. Curing involves smoking, salting or adding nitrates to meat. Nitrates have recently received a bad rap in the media, having been labeled as carcinogens, or cancer causers.
While studies have shown that certain cancers are more common in people who eat high levels of processed meat, the same study also showed that those who ate the most processed meat also ate the fewest fruit and veg and were also more likely to be smokers . So whether those naughty nitrates caused the increased risk of cancer or whether it was simply down to the fact that processed meat indulgers are generally unhealthier is debatable.
The bottom line is not to make bacon a daily indulgence. Keep servings small and eat it alongside fruits or vegetables as much as possible.
If you tend to eat a lot of bacon, you should cut back on other processed meats such as sausage, pepperoni and salami. Rather than choosing fat laden streaky bacon, try more traditional English bacon which is much lower in saturated fat. Or, you could experiment with a healthier alternative like turkey bacon, reducing your calorie consumption from 76 calories in streaky bacon to 56 calories per serving. It also reduces your fat intake by 25% compared with streaky bacon.
11107 Published October 2013
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