Sheldon’s Corner: Is Bacon Really the Enemy?
Bacon is without a doubt one of the most popular foods in the world, especially in places like the United States. Whether people like the chewy variety or the crispier kind, whether they decide to bake it in the oven, fry it in a pan, throw it on the grill or simply microwave it, people love bacon. All the grease, the fat, and the salt pack in so much flavor. It goes without saying then that bacon, though incredibly delicious, is not the healthiest food one could consume. If you’re curious about what bacon can do to your body, read it here!
There are a lot of shock and awe info-graphics and the like that quickly demonize certain foods, drinks, or other products for the sake of sensationalism. Oftentimes these articles will use scare tactics such as large words, obscure definitions, and cherry-picked facts to sway opinion, making something out to be much worse than it actually is. Instant noodles, for example, were a target on more than one occasion. Typically, these articles dramatically increase the severity of ill effects, as well as decreasing the time it would take for such effects to be truly problematic. All in all, very dishonest writing.
With all the fanfare aside, it’s important to know that there is both good news and bad news about bacon. Keep in mind that moderation is key to most things in life, and bacon, sadly, is no exception. Let’s go ahead and lead with the bad news first.
When it comes to bacon, sodium is without a doubt, one of the largest concerns. Sodium is found in salt, and salt is used extensively in the production of bacon. This is because the use of salt to cure bacon is the most popular means to do so. Furthermore, one must also take into account all of the natural salt found in bacon. In small amounts, sodium is helpful. However, high sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure due to the effect sodium has on blood vessels. This can lead to heart attack, strokes or other serious heart diseases.
Fat is another significant factor in the equation of bacon deliciousness; in fact, nearly two-third of the energy that is found in bacon comes from its fat content, and half of that fat is saturated. Bacon also contains cholesterol. Fat and cholesterol both come in many forms; some of them are better for us than others. For example, there are saturated and unsaturated fats, and HDL and LDL cholesterol. Saturated fat and LDL cholesterol are both bad for the body in excess and can lead to heart disease, as well as other serious illnesses, such as certain kinds of cancer.
If this information has gotten you down, don’t fret over it too hard. Yes, there are definitely things to look out for with bacon, but despite all of the negative attention, bacon is not *all* bad. It actually contains some nutrients that the body needs. Here’s a little good news about bacon.
Protein and other Nutrition
While protein is the obvious answer, bacon also provides significant levels of various other nutrients aside from protein. The body needs protein for a number of things, most notably the building of muscle. A single slice of bacon can contain anywhere from 7 to 25% of the daily recommended value of protein, depending on the type of bacon and the method of preparation. That being said, bacon does provide other helpful nutrients, such as B-12 and B-6 vitamins, which are responsible for many of the processes that keep your body running smoothly. Other nutrients include zinc, potassium, selenium, and magnesium.
So, bottom line: do you have to give up bacon? Well, no, not really. Bacon can contribute to health in moderate amounts, and when eaten in excess, it can cause harm; it’s how much bacon you eat, combined with the rest of your diet, that determines just how harmful bacon is. If you have several strips of bacon with every meal, you may want to diversify your diet; however, a few strips here and there will not hurt, especially as part of a balanced diet, which includes lots of potassium and magnesium (think leafy greens) to offset bacon’s sodium content.
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