Is bacon paleo? Bacon is Paleo, sometimes. It honestly really depends on the type.
Is Bacon Paleo?
Pork itself is Paleo (and turkey too, if you’re more inclined to eat turkey bacon). Many types of store-bought bacon contain chemicals and preservatives that are not Paleo.
Pork is one of the few types of meat eaten across almost every continent on earth, including in some of the world’s healthiest areas. People living in the Mediterranean region, South and Central America, Europe and Asia all regularly eat pork as part of their overall healthy diets. Populations in countries like China, Costa Rica, Spain and Italy who usually don’t worry about their weight, eat fatty pork products like prosciutto and big snout. In fact most people who reside in the world’s “Blue Zones”, areas where people have the longest-life spans and are most likely to make it to their 100th birthday, all eat pork (at least on occasion).
Health Benefits of Pork and Bacon
Paleo followers prefer natural brands of bacon, meaning those that make their products without nitrates or fillers. They are used in recipes like bacon cheeseburgers (bunless of course), bacon and eggs, and bacon-stuffed dates. Pork is often called “the other white meat” because compared to poultry some cuts (like pork loin) tend to be pretty lean. Of course the meat used to make bacon isn’t one of these lean parts–you can see the fat dripping right off of it!
In reality, there are health benefits to bacon. Pork is loaded with protein (like all types of animal meats) and is a complete source of all essential amino acids. These amino acids are crucial for many functions, especially blood sugar control and muscle growth. It’s also high in iron, phosphorus, magnesium and B vitamins, like the anti-stress vitamins B2 and B12. Pork is, surprisingly, one of the highest foods in saturated fat.
The tides are turning when it comes to saturated fat being labeled “unhealthy”, as you’re probably already aware. Most people now accept that natural fats of all kinds, including saturated fat found in animal meat, are important since each type of fat has its own special role in the body.
The high-fat content of bacon is a big reason why it tastes so good. There’s no reason to feel guilty. Saturated fat is important for cell rejuvenation, hormonal, reproductive and brain health. In fact, the high-fat content on bacon makes it filling and a good option for people who need to watch their blood sugar. Since fat helps to slow the release of glucose (from carbs and sugar) into the blood stream it helps with blood sugar. Eat some bacon alongside your Paleo pancakes slathered in pure maple syrup and the bacon will help stunt the effects.
Which Kind of Bacon To Buy, Which To Avoid
Keep in mind the amount of processing and ingredients used in bacon can vary significantly between different brands. While pork can be healthy, when it comes to the type of pork used in bacon, things aren’t so cut and dry.
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Bacon usually goes through a curing process, where the meat is soaked in a high-sodium solution that contains nitrates, spices and sometimes sugar. This preserves the meat and enhances the texture and taste. It also helps kill bacteria which might be harmful; an added benefit of the high salt content.
The bottom line is that you can enjoy your bacon while eating a Paleo diet. However there is a caveat: compare brands and choose wisely. When it comes to meat, you want the healthiest type of animal. You also want the least added ingredients and ideally want to cook the meat at a low temperature to prevent the fats from turning rancid. Think “low and slow”.
Watch out for the very high sodium brands and those that use lots of sugar, nitrate preservatives and artificial additives. Pork doesn’t naturally have a lot of salt in it. Sodium is added during the curing and brining process. It’s the same process used to make hot dogs or sausage, which are also sodium-bombs.
Nitrates are commonly added to big-brand bacons and are tied to high blood pressure. Some research has even linked nitrates to cancer formation. However, nitrates are still really up for debate. Some research shows they aren’t harmful and are naturally present in the body. Despite what most people think, turkey bacon isn’t necessarily a better bet all around; in fact it’s usually higher in salt and fillers than regular pork bacon.
Look for bacon that is certified organic, sugar-free, labeled all natural and nitrate-free. These types of bacon won’t last nearly as long in your refrigerator because they aren’t loaded with junk. Use them quickly or keep them in the freezer. Some brands to look for include The Piggery, Epic Nutrition, Pederson’s Natural Farms and Willshire Farms.
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