Hi loves, it’s been a little while. I usually get daily inspiration with the weird stuff I hear people say about nutrition. I still do get that inspiration, but I’ve already written about most of it, so I’ve been struggling a bit! Ha.
Recently, an esteemed non-nutrition colleague asked me a question. As I directly answered his question, it became blatantly apparent he didn’t care at all about the answer. I would say that happens regularly – someone asks me a nutrition question and continues to argue when they don’t get the answer they wanted but rather the answer that is supported by science. But that’s another topic for another day…
Anyway, the question was “is bacon good for you?” The real answer was longer than what I’ll say here; but in summary, I will say that bacon can be a very useful food full of nutrients (primarily saturated fat) that helps improve health depending on what is consumed with it.
Bacon is not independently “good for you.” Bacon is especially harmful when consumed with zero fiber and few nutrients (think white bread and a pile of oil-covered hash browns…or a keto diet). However, when you have bacon along with dark leafy greens, perhaps some tomatoes…well now bacon is helping you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Bacon is also providing some protein and fat to help keep you satisfied longer after that meal.
Vitamin C from the vegetables helps you to use the nitrate found in the cured bacon to produce nitric oxide to open up your blood vessels, which helps your blood pressure and circulation. The potassium in the vegetables helps to balance the sodium content of the bacon so that it doesn’t bother your blood pressure. The fiber in the vegetables helps to reduce absorption of some of the fat so that your body only absorbs what it needs. I could go on, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea.
Good quality matters when it comes to bacon (and all foods). If at all possible, try to get bacon from pasture-raised pigs. Uncured bacon still has nitrates despite claiming to be “nitrate free.” But the nitrate is from celery powder, a natural form of nitrates like spinach and beets; so it’s a better option.
Back to the question of “is ___ food healthy?” No food is independently, absolutely good or bad for you. All foods can contribute something helpful or harmful depending on how they are consumed. The poison is in the dose, right?
As usual, specific health conditions require a more comprehensive discussion. However, there is no such thing as a “cardiac diet” or a “diabetic diet.” It’s not like suddenly we have to change everything we’re eating because we just had a heart attack as penance for our wrongs. It’s that we were supposed to be eating to support heart health since childhood…
Speaking of childhood…this morning I told my toddler not to put bacon in her ears. And to keep you safe, put your bacon in your belly with vegetables…not in your ears.