Porkin' out: Eat bacon in moderationI probably like bacon just as much as the next person. And although I’ve never said “everything tastes better with bacon,” the thought has crossed my mind probably once or twice.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
I probably like bacon just as much as the next person. And although I’ve never said “everything tastes better with bacon,” the thought has crossed my mind probably once or twice.
And you won’t hear me criticizing anyone for eating bacon because occasionally, I’ll have some myself. Take, for example, last week, when a bunch of us who work the Tuesday night shift each brought in a dish that contained what some have labeled one of the worst foods that you can eat.
We had hot German potato salad, stuffed mushrooms, sandwiches featuring bleu cheese and pear slices and a dip whose ingredients are similar to those found in a loaded baked potato. Of course, all featured bacon.
It probably was the least healthiest I’ve eaten in a long time. But I didn’t overdo it. And that’s what you have to do when it comes to foods such as bacon, ones that taste great but aren’t good for you in excess.
Nutritionally, bacon won’t be found at the top of any healthy foods list. Just one strip contains about 40 calories, 3.5 grams of fat (1.7 grams saturated), 7.5 milligrams of cholesterol and 120 milligrams of sodium.
While the amount of sodium is high and the fat moderate, what you have to watch out for in bacon is the nitrates, a preservative used in processed food to help it keep its color (also found in hot dogs, sausages and cold cuts).
The reason foods such as bacon that contain nitrates are so bad is that when they are cooked at high temperatures, they form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic. (The American Institute for Cancer Research advises people to avoid all forms of processed meat until more is known about what it is specifically about processed meat that increases cancer risk.)
I usually buy bacon only once a year — about 5 or so pounds — from my friend, Al Ekness. Al lives in Westby, Mont., where he owns a small grocery store. One of its features is fresh meats. Al makes his own bacon from pigs that he raises and sells it at the store.
That bacon is used only sparingly in a couple of dishes I make plus the occasional BLTs in the summer — with lettuce and tomatoes from my garden.
An alternative to pork bacon is turkey bacon, which is lower in fat and calories but can be similar in flavor. (Two strips of Butterball turkey bacon contain 2.5 grams of fat and 70 calories, 32 percent of which is from fat, while turkey bacon from Louis Rich and Mr. Turkey contain 5 and 4 grams of fat, respectively, per two slices.) Turkey bacon works as well as traditional bacon in things such as BLT’s and can be substituted by those whose religious restrictions forbid consumption of pork.
And it’s right in line with recent diet guidelines of the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of calories. (Sixty-eight percent of pork bacon calories comes from fat, almost half of which is saturated, and each ounce contributes 30 milligrams of cholesterol.)
These guidelines make the idea of occasionally enjoying a small amount of pork bacon, or switching to lower fat and saturated turkey bacon, seem like the prudent thing to do.
It’s good to know I’m keeping good company.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.