Bacon, Not As Bad As You’ve Been Told
Bacon has been a part of the American diet for as long as we can remember. Made from fatty pork belly slices which are typically cured in salt, nitrates and sugar and then smoked for days, thus rendering that delectable taste that’s incomparable with other cured meats. Though practically a breakfast staple in most American homes, reasonable consumption of bacon can be a healthy option for a host of reasons. Yes, you read that right consumption of bacon and healthy used in the same sentence who would have thought. But, and this very important, as I’ve stated before quality matters. The bacon you are looking for is typically not what you’re going to find the grocery store. For the bacon I’m referring to comes from healthy pigs that have been pastured raised, contains no added sugars or nitrates/nitrites, and has not been given any drugs. These pastured raised pigs have been shown to have many health benefits compared to commercially raised counterparts. One place to find this type of bacon is at a local farmers market, but you can also find it online here. It also important to note that I am not recommending that you go and consume high amounts of bacon (from pastured raised pigs), but it can be healthy when consumed in moderation.
Bacon is a suitable source of preformed vitamin A, a type of vitamin A that’s abundant in meat sources. Among other roles, this nutrient helps in the normal formation and functioning of various major organs like the lungs, heart, and liver. This nutrient is highly crucial for the prevention of macular degeneration as well, a condition that typically leads to blindness.
Bacon is a potent source of proteins, too, which are crucial for muscle formation, regeneration, as well as repair. Proteins take a lot more time to digest in the gastrointestinal tract as well and so is a suitable steady source of energy, particularly for physically active individuals.
Bacon contains niacin, selenium, and phosphorus in measurable amounts as well. Other micronutrients present in bacon are B vitamins, calcium, potassium, choline, folate, as well as iron and zinc, all of which are crucial for normal physiological function.
(Commercially-Raised) Bacon’s Risks:
As you probably already know, bacon contains considerable amounts of saturated fat, the type of fat that doctors advise against because of its propensity to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Most store-bought bacon, as was mentioned, typically contains nitrates or pink salt, too. Nitrates have been traditionally used for curing a host of non-organic commercially processed meat products like hams, sausages and hotdogs as these compound act both as an antibacterial as well as a flavor enhancer. Nitrates have been in the news lately as these are feared to cause a host of cancers, most especially colorectal cancer.
Consumption of feedlot-raised pork, which is the typical raw material of commercially available bacon, has been found to increase the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) in the body as well. IGF-1 has been identified as one of the hormones that cause growth of cancerous tumors.
Lastly, meats that have been raised in industrial farms have a highly unbalanced omega-3-to-omega-6 fatty acids ratio. Omega-3 acts as an anti-inflammatory while omega-6 functions as a pro-inflammatory. Needless to say, having balanced levels of these essential fatty acids in the body is crucial if you want to steer clear of or manage existing chronic diseases.
Recipe Of The Week
Bacon Curried Nuts
- ½ pound Bacon (Pasture-raised)
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- 1-2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne powder (or Chipotle powder)
- 2 Tablespoons Raw Honey or 100% Pure Maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- Chop bacon into approximately ½ inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cook bacon in cast-iron skillet (or other oven-safe frying pan) on medium heat until a significant amount of the fat has rendered out, but make sure to not cook it too long (should not be crispy)
- Remove about ¾ of the bacon fat from the cast-iron skillet and place skillet back on heat
- Add all the cashews, almonds, and pecans (or walnuts)
- Add the curry powder & sea salt and mix the nuts around until coated with the curry powder
- Add the honey and give it time to melt, but don’t cook it for too long. (You DO NOT want the sugar in the honey to start to caramelize)
- Once honey is melted, remove skillet from stove-top and place in pre-heated oven, bake for 12 mins (or until lightly toasted)