5 Myths About Bacon - Busted!

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According to market research, 80 percent of American households have bacon on their weekly grocery list, contributing to the over 1 billion finger-licking servings being dished out each year. Along with the popularity of pork fat comes many misconceptions -- let’s set the record straight on some of the most-popular bacon folklore.

1: All bacon contains sodium nitrate

Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are preservatives added to foods like bacon, cold cuts and hot dogs to preserve color and prevent bacterial growth. Excessive consumption of these additives may be harmful, and they do jack up the sodium content. You can find some brands that are “uncured” and free of these additives; check ingredient labels!

2: Bacon is always greasy

An average piece of regular sliced bacon contains 40 calories and 3 grams of fat. But how you cook it can significantly impact the amount of grease you consume. When prepared in a skillet, bacon isn’t allowed to escape the fatty drippings. You can drain away some of the fat or try cooking bacon with other methods. Prepare it in the microwave on a paper towel-lined plate or in the oven on a baking rack to remove some of the excess grease.

3: Turkey bacon is healthier

Turkey may seem like a healthier alternative to pork, but it really depends on the cut of poultry. If dark meat and skin are used to make bacon, there will be a higher calorie and fat count. Even if lean turkey meat is used, it may be higher in sodium to boost flavor, so check out labels to assess.

4: Bacon is a side dish

Instead of stacking up a large pile of bacon as a side dish (where the portions become excessive), rely on a small amount for flavoring an entire dish. A small amount of bacon added to a sandwich, or in an omelet, soup or dip is all you need to enjoy that distinctive flavor.

5: Bacon causes cancer

A report published by the World Health Association revealed that consuming lots of processed meats can increase risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 18 percent. The headlines surrounding this got a lot of folks spooked, but it’s important to note that these findings were based on eating more than 2 ounces of processed meat per day, which all health professionals would agree is too much for lots of reasons.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.