Taste Test: Turkey Bacon

Do you reach for turkey bacon as a healthier alternative to conventional bacon? As it turns out, there's not always a huge difference between the two when it comes to nutrition stats. An average slice of traditional pork bacon (about ½ ounce in weight) contains 35 calories, 1 gram saturated fat and 130 milligrams of sodium. Now find out how the turkey version stacks up.

The Criteria

Each brand of turkey bacon was rated on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). The strips were evaluated based on taste, nutrition and ingredient quality, with special attention paid to calories, fat, sodium and use of preservatives. All slices were cooked in the same fashion, using the microwave for about 2 minutes of cooking time.

Rating: 4
Cost: $0.56

Nutrition Info (1 slice – about 1 ounce): 35 calories; 0 grams saturated fat; 200 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: This tasty uncured option is nitrite-free. Also in the bacon's favor: a nice contrast of sweet and salt -- and the strips are a good candidate for a BLT if you like some chew to your bacon. The bacon did get penalized for being more expensive and higher in sodium than most other brands.

Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.12 per slice

Nutrition Info (1 slice – about ½ ounce ): 35 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 180 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: A bit on the dry side and also very salty, this bacon nevertheless has a typical smoky flavor. Sodium nitrite and lots of other sodium preservatives are used to cure it.

Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Bacon
Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.37 per slice

Nutrition Info (1 slice – about 1 ounce): 30 calories; 1.5 grams saturated fat; 180 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: This brand has a refreshingly decipherable ingredient list and is made with turkey thighs and celery powder in place of nitrites. It has decent flavor and a chewy texture. Slices are substantial, making it a good choice for anyone who likes thick cuts of bacon.

Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.87 per slice

Nutrition Info (1 slice – about 1 ounce): 30 calories; 0 grams saturated fat; 320 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: This thick-sliced, uncured bacon has true bacon flavor but an undesirable texture, with strips that are almost flaky and fall apart easily. The bacon is made with organic ingredients but also comes with a hefty price tag -- it was the most expensive of the group -- along with an obscene amount of sodium (more than double the amount of the average slice of regular bacon).

Rating: 3
Cost: $0.16 per slice

Nutrition Info (1 sliceabout 1/3 ounce ): 17 calories; 0.25 grams saturated fat; 90 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: A very thinly sliced cured bacon, this version has a nice crunch and crumbles well. But as with many of the other brands, it tastes too salty and is cured with sodium nitrite.

Rating: 2.5
Cost: $0.10 per slice

Nutrition Info (1 slice – about ½ ounce ): 35 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 140 milligrams sodium

The Healthy Eats Take: The crisp initial bite becomes overly chewy, and while this bacon has a pleasant smoky flavor, it also has an odd aftertaste. Nitrites are used to prepare this bacon, which is made with "mechanically separated turkey."

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. See Dana's full bio »

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