Bacon, The Prom, and (Nutritional) Maturity
Enough With the ******* Bacon
We’re Killjoys. Sorry.
We are probably not the first nutrition educators to rain on your parade. At some point, someone probably told you that your steel-cut oats and low-fat yogurt, while delicious, were not very good for you. So you shifted towards Paleo nutrition, and a diet in favor of nutrient-dense whole foods that promote a healthy metabolism and minimize inflammation. And then, someone even meaner told you that fruit came with some caveats, coffee isn’t a free-for-all and almonds weren’t your best fat choice, either. (If you’ve been to one of our workshops or read our 9 Blog for any length of time, we might have been those killjoys. Sorry.)
Here’s a key point: we say those things not because we’re trying to woo you into Paleoland, or (as some might accuse us) because we want to ruin your life. We share our knowledge and experience with you because we feel compelled to do the best we can to make your lives healthier, simpler and happier.T hat being said, we’d like to share our perspective on something near and dear to the hearts of many Paleo eaters – bacon.
Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?
Bacon used to be seen as the epitome of unhealthy eating, a sort of hedonistic culinary irresponsibility. After all, it was full of saturated fat, loaded with sodium, and infused with questionable preservatives. But as many of us have since learned, saturated fat is not, in fact, the enemy. (In fact, there’s some research that suggests some types of saturated fats have health-promoting properties.) And in the context of eliminating most packaged, processed food from our diet, we’ve also eliminated most of the sodium, which, for most people, makes salty foods not so bad on occasion. Some folks even say that nitrates and nitrites are totally fine (but we’re not quite sold on that idea).
So, wait… bacon is actually totally healthy? Not so fast. It may not be the devil’s creation , but despite the insane number of nutrition blogs devoted to the stuff (Googling “Paleo + bacon” brings up 456,000 results), we still don’t promote bacon as health food, or everyday food.
To be clear, we are not here to disparage bacon, or those who love bacon, or to recommend you never eat bacon (or pork in general). This is a post about why you won’t see us promoting bacon at every opportunity. Or, really, at all. And while we know we’ll not be winning any popularity contests with this post… we’re here to make you healthier, not be voted the Paleo Prom King and Queen.
The Bacon Rebellion
Why are we picking on bacon? Because we’ve got more and more new readers coming to our site every day, and we want to make sure they’re getting the right kind of “good food” message. See, we’ve noticed a common, predictable pattern in Paleoland: fervent defiance against conventional wisdom, with bacon as the rebellious gateway. “You conventional thinkers believe bacon is unhealthy? Ha. Watch me eat a pound of it for breakfast.” There is no easier way to position yourself as a counter-culture Paleo disciple than to eat more bacon – and then publicize it on your blog.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. Andy Deas, author of the Chasing Capacity blog and general Smart Dude, says, “In our early Paleo days, we all had our fling with bacon. We were practically mainlining bacon. But as we learned more and gained more experience with Paleo nutrition, we figured out that bacon probably isn’t the healthiest thing to be eating that much of. We grew up, nutritionally speaking.”
So, while we’re not telling you that you should eliminate bacon the way you eliminated your Diet Coke (that is, now and forever), we want our readers – especially those new-ish to Paleo – to stop and think about what they’re eating. We strive to have coherent, consistent thought processes that underlie all of our nutritional recommendations, whether you agree with them or not. And offering “counter-culture”, popular sales pitches designed to lure people into our way of eating is simply not part of that thought process. For those of you wondering why we don’t promote bacon as part of a good, healthy diet… here’s why.
The Bummer Part
You see, bacon, however delicious it might be, has some downsides. First, factory-farmed bacon (approximately 95% of the bacon purchased in the US, according to 2007 data) is, nutritionally speaking, garbage. It’s the fattiest cut of an inhumanely treated, poorly fed, often sickly animal, and it’s loaded with unhealthy (i.e. contaminated) fats, preservatives and additives. We’d venture to call it toxic meat, but then again, we love hyperbole. Nonetheless, we think nobody should eat factory-farmed bacon – ever.
Even in family farms where the animals are treated well, their diets are not always conducive to our optimal health. Even “pastured” pigs’ diets are often supplemented with corn, grains and soybeans. This makes this kind of pastured pork the equivalent of grain-fed cattle that get to eat a little bit of grass – and we would not designate that meat as optimally healthy for you. Because we believe high-quality, grass-finished, organic meat from ruminants (like beef, lamb and elk) is the most healthy protein source available, promoting lots of lesser quality meats like bacon – even from mostly pastured pork – doesn’t make much sense. (Nonetheless, this is not a case against pork. In a rotation of high-quality meats, 100% pastured, organic pork may have its place.)
So why aren’t we promoting 100% pastured, organic, family-farmed bacon? Here’s where our experience comes in. Historically, when we give people a nutritional inch, they take a nutritional mile. And like a Paleo version of “telephone”, our message tends to degrade the further it spreads. When we mention that we use 100% egg white powder when we travel, people take that to mean, “It’s okay to drink protein shakes!” We say pastured, organic, clarified butter is a good food choice, they pass along, “Whole9 says eat more butter!” Which is exactly why you’ll never hear us mention bacon.
So if we mentioned 100% pastured, organic, nitrate/nitrite-free , family-farmed bacon in every web article, Facebook post and Twitter tweet, well… readers, followers, and workshop attendees would hear (and tell others), “Whole9 say eat bacon!” And then they’d tell their friends, family members and blog readers to eat more bacon, and then you’ve got a whole group of Paleo newbies buying pounds of Oscar Mayer – and consuming what could, in fact, be the unhealthiest meat product out there (besides Spam) in copious amounts. Oops. So that’s one reason we don’t pimp bacon.
6:3 (You Knew We’d Go There)
Some authors, including the highly-respected Dr. Michael Eades, compare the fatty acid profile of bacon to olive oil and conclude that they are very similar. A few percentage points of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) or saturated fat (SFA) aside, we’ll agree. Furthermore, the total polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) content of bacon fat and olive oil are almost identical. (Weird, right?) So here’s where we come back to having a consistent thought process for our recommendations.
We generally recommend against cooking with olive oil… so why would we champion cooking with bacon?
Here’s the back-story. We (and lots of Smart People like Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn ) recommend aggressively limiting your polyunsaturated fat intake because those fragile fats undergo peroxidation most easily (compared to MUFA and SFA). The oxidation process forms damaging free radicals that promote inflammation, contribute to aging, and increase the risk of cancer. Heating these fats and exposing them to air (oxygen) dramatically increases the rate that these fats oxidize. So, logically, we recommend that you avoid heating or cooking with fats (like olive oil) that contain these fragile, prone-to-oxidation PUFAs.
So if we believe olive oil should not be heated, and bacon and olive oil have almost the same PUFA content, why would we portray bacon as a healthy choice, given that no one eats their bacon carpaccio-style? Bacon is generally cooked in the open air at fairly high temperatures until “well done”, which smells like oxidized PUFA to us. (And given that their PUFA profile is practically identical, it also doesn’t make sense for us to recommend against cooking with olive oil, but then to give cooking with bacon fat the green light.)
The kicker is that the amount of total fat (and thus PUFA, as a percentage of the total) in a manly-sized serving of bacon is much greater than you’d get from a tablespoon-sized serving of olive oil. (Remember, it’s not just about the ratio of 6:3 in any given food or meal – it’s more about the total dose.) So dissing EVOO for cooking but crispifying a pound of bacon every morning – or frying all your food in bacon fat – just doesn’t add up to us.
Delicous Isn’t Good Enough.
Our concern is not just with the amount of – or 6:3 ratio of – pastured vs. conventional bacon – it’s not just about the fat. (And we don’t really want to debate the potential harm of nitrates/nitrites that are commonly used to preserve bacon. That smacks of justification.) The final reason we don’t promote bacon is because even if you buy the uncured, organic, 100% pastured, nitrate-free stuff, it’s still not your best protein choice. (It doesn’t even make our Top Ten, in fact.) Amy Kubal, RD, says “Many consider bacon a quality source of protein, but this is not necessarily the case compared to beef or chicken. In fact, bacon is often just as much fat as protein. Bacon is delicious – don’t get me wrong. It’s my favorite ‘condiment’ and should be treated as just that – a condiment. A slice or two every now and then is great, but as an everyday protein option, you can do better.”
As nutrition educators, it’s our job to present what we think is your best-case nutritional scenario. So for us to rabidly promote something that isn’t even everyday-food-worthy just doesn’t make sense to us. As Amy said, sure, it’s delicious – but we don’t think that “delicious” should be a determining factor on which foods we promote as healthy. (That’s the Bad Cop speaking). We do, of course, think the Delicious Factor is a critical piece of what treats you choose, but treats and everyday health food are not the same thing.
Spread the Good Food Word
We believe promoting bacon as a recurring theme in our nutritional recommendations would be missing the mark. While it might be (well) intended to turn conventional wisdom on its head and draw others in to open a more complete dialogue, we don’t believe it’s an accurate or responsible way to “sell” Paleo to friends, family, or folks who look to us for nutritional advice. Just as we’d never promote handfuls of dried fruit as healthy, we can’t see the logic in promoting bacon as the epitome of health food, either. (And we believe that mentioning bacon at every opportunity is, by association, misrepresenting the health aspects of it.)
So if you want to open a discussion with friends about saturated fat, chronic disease, and conventional (medical) wisdom, we applaud you. But the “shock and awe” approach, where you repeatedly scarf down large amounts of bacon to “prove” to them that it won’t give you an instant heart attack, usually only serves to confirm your friends’ and family’s suspicions that you are, in fact, totally nuts. We’re trying to work Good Food into the Everyman’s life, not reinforce the idea that Paleo folks are a bizarre subculture.
If you’ve got a blog or serve as a local or online resource for people seeking information about healthy eating, and you’re using bacon as a tool to earn popularity or ease people into Paleo, consider whether you’re doing those people a disservice. The next time someone asks you what they should eat for breakfast in place of their Kashi GoLean cereal and soy milk, consider saying something besides “[insert large amount here] of bacon.” Sure, it would get a positive (and fun) reaction out of them, but it’s probably not the most healthful, honest representation of Eating Good Food.
Thank you for reading. Kindly direct questions, voodoo curses and hate mail to comments below.
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Tom Denham - Whole9 EE says
I never heard you say “olive oil should not be heated.” Do you have a cooking oil manifesto tucked away somewhere?
I have not been able to find bacon without added sugar for the past 6 months, so my house is a bacon free zone anyway.
Escoffier had listed bacon as a condiment even back the early 20th century. Not for health reasons, but rather it just isn’t good culinary sense to build your dish around something so strongly flavored as good quality bacon.
Is there any evidence that olive oil gets significantly oxidized when cooked? Much like the bacon love, I’ve seen it repeated on various Paleo weblogs, usually with reference to the smoke point being lower. But other sources seem to put the smoke point higher than many vegetable oils. At the moment I still cook with it all the time, simply using one that is cold-pressed and free of sediment (any left-over pulp can cause it to burn faster). I’d use coconut oil more but it generally adds too much coconut flavour.
I’m heartbroken, simply heartbroken.
But on a serious note, what oils are the best to cook with? Maybe a top 5? Thanks for the well written article that’s going to put a damper on my bacon scarfing ways.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Tom: You must have dozed off during the 6:3 ratio part of our last workshop. ;) We do talk about it pretty thoroughly at all of our events, when we have the discussion on fats in the mid-afternoon. Our recommendations for cooking fats are also outlined in detail in our Whole30 Success Guide – including why we don’t recommend you cook with olive oil.
@Josh: Nice reference. We like the idea of using bacon like a seasoning – a piece here or there crumbled on asparagus or Brussel’s sprouts adds a lot of flavor without adding a lot of, well, bacon.
@Andrew: We could debate smoke points of various brands and types of olive oil, but that’s not really the point. PUFAs are the least stable of the three major types of fats, and because of that instability, we recommend against heating them and risking that oxidation. (Oxidized PUFAs = poison.)
Occasionally, we do cook with olive oil. (Gasp! Yep, we like the flavor too.) What we outline in our Whole30 Success Guide is to cook at low temperature for brief periods of time, so as to limit your risk of oxidation. (A cast iron pan is best, as you can control the heat far more than you can with a flimsy Teflon-coated pan.)
You can also use the “wet saute” method – cover the bottom of your pan with water, heat to just about boiling, and toss in your veggies. Towards the end, throw in your olive oil and mix to coat. This method shortens the time the oil is in contact with the hot pan.
Finally, MDA says in a post on frying that virgin olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra-virgin, so that may be a better option for those of you who want to use it for cooking with higher heat.
@DJ: Saturated fats are the most stable (and least likely to oxidize) when exposed to air and heat. Things like grass-finished, organic tallow; pastured, organic, clarified butter (www.whole9life.com/2010/11/butter) and unrefined coconut oil are the best cooking fats in our book.
Cook bacon in the microwave between 4 sheets of paper towels. PUFAs have a very low melting point and they flow out to be absorbed by the paper towels. The saturated fat stays in the bacon.
Edward Stedman says
Melissa/Dallas – Good article (as usual). I guess there’s no denying the facts. I’m not sure (except maybe once or twice, a few years ago), I’ve ever eating bacon as my primary protein source. It’s just too salty. However, after reading this article, I’ll be inclined to cut down how often I use it as a secondary protein source and/or “condiment” on a weekly basis…or maybe I won’t (ha…we’ll see).
Seriously, it is a good article and facts like this need to be know. Not all paleo is created equal. I have one request:
Could y’all write an article on how to vary up eggs. Eggs are a primary protein source, and I cook them with bacon grease as often as I can, because that’s my favorite way to have eggs. Without bacon grease, I find eggs become boring and difficult to stomach after a few weeks. I’m sure plenty of people would appreciate a follow-up to this article about removing bacon and what to put in its place (hey y’all are taking this “meat-candy” away from us, I think your obligated – kidding). As I’ve mentioned, I’m specifically interested in keeping my eggs tasty and enjoyable to eat. Thanks for the help.
Thanks again Dallas and Melissa.
I’m on a kick of smothering my eggs (cooked over medium) in salsa and guacamole (or just chunks of avocado) lately. I find it extremely tasty and satisfying, although I don’t think I would ever get sick of eggs!
Great post as I have always wondered what the “paleo” fascination was with bacon. But then again, I am kosher so never do eat it!
About oil, how is mac nut oil for an occasional roasting/cooking oil? I have eliminated all nuts but do use this occas for roasting veggies. And it actually doesnt cause any negative issues for me.
Regarding eggs, I like em in the morning with onions and greens. But I actually just cut them from my diet for 3 weeks and have only reintroduced them now 2x.. I am not sure I am seeing a difference either way but time will tell. I just found I was abusing them.
AWESOME post Dallas and Melissa! That so needed to be said – tell it like it is. I loved it! :)
Chris S says
Great post as usual. I promise not to hate you for saying bad things about my beloved bacon if you guys could follow up with some ideas of something delicious we could sub in it’s place (ya know…..to ease the withdrawal).
Great article. I’ve always avoided bacon, even since before paleo. The horrible care given to pigs has long been known publicly way before “grass fed” was even a buzzword.
Also, and I’m glad you mention this although it’s only a minor point in your larger argument, the fat:protein ratio is indeed a big reason not to eat a lot of it. Or to use only as condiment like you say. It’s not a food source. And while I have no problem with good quality salt used in my own cooking to make everything taste good, the amounts in bacon are ridiculous.
Thanks for a balanced approach to the condi-meat. Although our blog has bacon in the title we try to keep the bacon from being the protein source in a meal. Sprinkled on brussels sprouts or asparagus is one of our faves.
Bacon has sort of been over-played and we’re guilty of over-playing it too.
But it’s so damned good it’s on that F*** Off grid and there is no erasing it.
I had bacon in my dinner tonight… Which was made of wild-caught halibut, leeks and steamed broccolini/asparagus. Definitely a condi-meat tonight.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
We’ll address “things you can eat for breakfast besides eggs” in a post really soon – that’s a pretty common question, in fact. (Not that we think you shouldn’t eat eggs every day – we do, and we’re okay with that in the context of a really healthy diet. But if you’re wanting to branch out, we’ll give you some ideas.)
Ben – you’ve nailed it. We are horrified at the treatment of factory farmed pigs – they’re perhaps the worst-treated of all the FF animals, and the meat that comes from such sickly, stressed creatures is inherently less than healthy. Thanks for sharing.
Kylie, thanks for contributing. Our intention was NOT to poke people who blog about bacon – in fact, in my early Urban Gets Diesel days, I had a series of posts devoted to bacon, too! (It’s like Andy said, we all go through that stage.) We love that you don’t pimp it as a main source of protein, however, and we love the idea of bacon as a spice, seasoning or condiment. Your dinner sounds fantastic.
*sigh* I really really LOVE bacon. Always have. But, I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree and lately have been making only one to two slices per person when we do have it. Which, has only been 1x per week. As a condiment is a perfect way to describe it. My dad is a hunter and often gets a wild boar. We are smitten with the apple cinnamon sausage he has made. It’s a great substitute.
I have to say that even without bacon, eating this way has never been more delicious. I am a complete avocado fan and if you were to ever say that avocados aren’t ok, I might die. ;)
Cathy Daly says
Hello… so I’m throwing this out and backing off because I don’t remember reading this anywhere and I’m a little out of it from all my pain meds…
I don’t eat bacon, but once in a while I have turkey bacon… so turkey bacon.. do the same rules apply?
Sorry if this is a repeat.
Raj Ganpath says
Awesome awesome post! As much as I’m crazy bout bacon (who isnt?!), I’ve never had had it by the pound for the exact reasons you’ve listed on here.
Much respect for choosing health and legitimacy over popularity!
Henry Duran says
I second Leigh’s question.
For those on a budget, what do you think of the effort of buying cheap conventional eggs and using just the whites to as a cheap way (especially when purchased in bulk) of supplementing the protein content of meals consisting of primarily pasture-raised eggs?
I also understand egg whites are virtually all protein, and contains very little fat and has a poor nutritional profile. I’m a starving college student that enjoys his pasture-raised eggs (since they are tasty, healthy, quick, and still a more affordable option than grass-fed ruminants and wild-caught seafood).
I understand I am still supporting evil CAFO’s, but I am trying my best, and have followed your recommendations on eating Paleo on a budget, through my own prior understandings, as well as your tips provided and what I continue to learn. Considering we aren’t afraid of fat anymore, we all learn from our mistakes of taking the fat-mantra too far, and as Andy Deas said, “we all grew up, nutritionally speaking”by placing fats in its rightful place; not a free-for-all food. With that said, on the days I’m mostly sedentary I try to limit my fat intake to reasonable amounts, and emphasize protein as a considerable portion of my calories.
Re: Breakfast. I went and read Martin Berkhan’s blog leangains.com and now I no longer feel guilty when I don’t eat breakfast. Such a relief =)
Ali P. says
Since oxidation is one of your big reasons against 100% pastured, organic, nitrate/nitrite-free, family-farmed bacon, do you know how the oxidation in cooking bacon compares to the oxidation that happens when grilling, searing, or cooking at high temperatures? Does it make sense to promote grilling, searing, frying (using more stable fats like grass-finished, organic tallow) but to say no to bacon?
Rebecca Latham says
Love the bacon jpg!
Well, since I have had bacon and eggs EVERY MORNING for breakfast for the past two years, I’m not sure what to eat this morning. I guess I’ll just have to double up on the eggs. I’m looking forward to that blog about bacon alternatives for breakfast.
I know you can eat anything at breakfast time, but eating some chicken just seems wrong at breakfast.
Brian K. says
My wife and I have already treated it like a condiment, a few pieces crumbled on top of eggs, etc.
I’m kind of bummed on the cooking-in-bacon-fat reality. I’m going to hunt down a farm that sells the good stuff ASAP.
What is REALLY funny is to break it to SAD folks that bacon and olive oil have nearly identical fat profiles. LOL
Thank you for the informative and thorough article.
Any thoughts on Turkey Bacon? Assuming it meets the quality criteria, I would think this is a much better alternative to regular bacon. The turkey bacon I have used in the past has less fat and way more protein/slice.
Thanks for all you do.
Patty- Whole9 EE says
Hi my name is Patty and I am a bacon addict! Okay, thankfully my stomach will not tolerate it and the smell nauseates me now due to pregnancy, but I have found a million and one ways to justify my old habit and now you’ve given me more than enough ammo as to why it’s not a good choice. Thanks so much for great info! Can’t wait to pass it on!
Jason Skinner says
GREAT, GREAT article! Everywhere I look in the Paleo community someone is touting bacon as healthy. Great work from the Whole9 crew, as usual.
So, regarding 6:3, why worry too much about it? I mean, PUFAs make up (roughly) 1/6th of the fat in bacon, meaning that O6 makes up less than 1/6th of the fat content. If Whole9 followers are supplementing fish oil, why bother worrying about such a minimal amount of O6?
Not that I advocate eating copious amounts of bacon…I would just appreciate some clarification!
At your Whole 9 you did speak about not cooking w/ olive oil, but in your recipes at the back of our packet, several have will have you cooking with it. What gives?
You may well be right about the poor-quality bacon available in the USA… as a Brit living in France I remember spending ages looking through the chill cabinets in US supermarkets trying to find bacon that was other than “streaky” — back bacon, through-cut, longback, collar, whatever — and winding up with stuff called “Canadian bacon” that had virtually no fat and not much flavour.
But I’m one of those strange people who considers that nitrates and nitrites, except in massive concentrations, are harmless or even beneficial to health; after all, they’ve been used in preserving meat for at least 12 000 years (around the Dead Sea, a rich source of both, since you ask). And the quality of the saturated fat in all cuts of decent-grade pork is immensely higher than in any kind of chicken or turkey, which are about the least interesting meats I inflict upon myself for the sake of variety.
I don’t recommend bacon as the prime source of protein every day, but I do eat at least 80g of it four times a week. And the kind I eat is at least two-thirds “meat” and the balance “fat”, unlike the “streaky” found in most US food stores. I also feel that you can worry too much over high temperature cooking and denaturing fats into carcinogens. We cannot avoid all risks, and our bodies are very good at eliminating toxins. If our immune systems never get challenged, they start amusing themselves by attacking our own tissues…
So enjoy your bacon, friends, as much as you like, along with plenty of other good-quality meats.
Oh yes, and a suggestion for Edward: I often breakfast on scrambled eggs, but instead of just plain butter in the bottom of the cooking pan, I use “maître d’hôtel” butter — warmed and mixed with crushed garlic and minced parsley. It keeps for ages and provides a wonderful edge to the flavour of the eggs.
Mike OD says
If you’re going to out bacon for imbalances on polyunsaturated fats…then also don’t forget: (from nutritiondata.com per 100gram serving):
– Eggs (scambled): 116 mg (O3): 1916mg (O6)
– Avocado: 110 mg (O3): 1689mg (O6)
– Chicken (dark meat/skin): 330mg (O3): 2930mg (O6)
– and for the win….Turkey (bacon/dark meat): 440mg (03): 6059mg (O6)
Somehow I think with the common sense rule of moderation, bacon, eggs, avocado and others are not going to knock many years off anyone’s life…and may actually increase it if they are subbing it in for worse off processed foods anyways.
Then there are many complicated processes that can repair cell structure (such as internal antioxidant production and stress responses) and food content of fat soluble vitamins (like Vit E) that may cancel out other issues. Way too much for my feeble brain to really comprehend other than the body can do well with real food.
Lastly this still all goes back to an obsessive nutritional mindset with people jumping on any one food group as the best thing since sliced bread (gluten free of course). Information is good, eating real foods works, obsessing over perfection is not healthy on any level. Most people need to just relax a bit and not overdo any one food group (moderation is so boring…yet seems to always work). Too much of that OCD mindset in the Paleo world.
Now back to my fried chicken wings wrapped in bacon….just kidding of course…but that still doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have it one night.
Scott Kustes says
While I agree with you all that bacon isn’t an everyday food, I think it only adds to an already neurotic, obsessive food culture to spend our time worrying about the n6:n3 ratio of everything or limiting PUFA to less than 4% of calories or any number of other bits of navel gazing. Learn to cook and eat Real Food. It’s that simple.
There’s no reason to count calories, carbs, fats, almonds, or PUFA percentages (especially since that requires an unreal reliance on coconut oil, hardly natural). Just eat real food and live your life. Avoid industrial foods (like vegetable oils and most anything in a box). Don’t rely on any one food too much (like bacon or avocados or eggs or beef or chicken or lamb…eat a wide variety of everything).
Also, you won’t find many (or perhaps any?) completely pastured pigs. Pigs can’t get enough calories to grow to a proper weight from grass alone. They are omnivores, able to digest grass, corn and other grains, and the occasional rat or lizard. Even Joel Salatin, the champion of proper animal feeding, feeds his pigs corn. Pigs aren’t cows and therefore some corn in their diet is normal.
JJ, turkey bacon is absolutely not a better choice than real bacon. It’s a highly processed food. Good bacon is typically pork belly sliced and cured with some combination of salt, sugar, and spices. Turkey bacon is made of formed turkey meat and usually a plethora of preservatives. I actually wrote specifically about these types of Real Food substitutes awhile back: http://www.nakedfoodcooking.com/real-foods/
Having just discovered Pastured Organic Nitrate Free Bacon at my neighborhood grocer I am now heartbroken. My next call is to my commodities broker; short pork bellies.
Jason Skinner says
I agree with your eat real food premise. However, I disagree with your theory that pigs can’t be totally pastured. If that is the case, how do you explain all the wild pigs in this country that are not only surviving, but thriving on “the land”. They are not being supplemented with corn. They are foraging in the forests mostly. Most in my area of East Texas are crossed with domestic pigs as well and they are huge.
I am not trying to be argumentative, just something to think about.
Scott Kustes says
True, but fully domesticated pigs are unlikely to get to market weight on a vast expanse of grass. Wild pigs tend to live in forests where their options for food are far beyond grass along with having a different disposition. More appropriately, it may be possible, but it’s not really feasible on a large (or even niche) scale…there comes a point where we have to stop letting perfection be the enemy of really close to perfect. A pig raised on pasture with some supplemental non-GMO feed and no antibiotics (except if the animal is truly sick) or hormones…well, that’s pretty close to perfect.
I agree that bacon shouldn’t be an everyday food or main protein/fat source, but I have to chuckle a bit whenever the bacon topic comes up. My mom’s two favorite foods were BBQ pork and bacon. She ate regular FF sugar cured, nitrate loaded bacon a couple of times a week (or even more when she was able to purchase the precooked kind…yikes!) and she lived to be almost 95 and was pretty darn healthy till about 92. I think if she hadn’t been a smoker she’d have lived to at least 100!
Per the USDA nutrition database, here are the lipid numbers on 100g of raw pork bacon vs 100g of olive oil.
You can work out for yourself whether those are truly equivalent amounts, given that the bacon also has some protein in it and just a bare smidgen of carb (not even 1g).
The single largest source of nitrates in the human diet is vegetables. It seems that nitrates turn into nitric oxide in the human body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator; this probably explains the reduction in blood pressure experienced by some people who add more vegetables to their diets.
It’s interesting that people who adopt low-carb diets–simply a low-carb diet, with no consideration of how “Paleo” it is–oftentimes also experience reduction in blood pressure. Some of that is probably from the extreme reduction in digestible carb intake; hyperinsulinism appears to contribute to high blood pressure. But so many LCers embrace bacon, and aren’t eating that much vegetable in the beginning if they’re doing something like Atkins (it’s certainly not the 5 servings a day called for by the USDA), that one cannot discount the effects of bacon consumption.
I do not consider a fatty cut of meat “low-quality.” Human beings have thrived on fatty meat for a few million years now. Look at any predator animal and that’s the first thing they go for, a prey animal with more fat stores. It’s also what hunter-gatherers prefer, overwhelmingly.
I would still prefer ruminant fat over omnivore fat, in the final tally, but I will not ignore pork as a source of good fat just because some people haven’t gotten over their CW indoctrination.
Yes, I know CAFO pigs eat such horrible things. If they were pastured, some people would still hang-wring about what they eat. Just like I’ve been mocked before by someone who noticed me eating catfish–“Do you have any idea what those things EAT?” You eat cow, don’t you? Ever tried eating grass? You want to be sick, you go right ahead and try it. I’ll be over here with the puke pan when you’re done. The whole point of eating animals, from a food chain standpoint, is that they take what is inedible to us and make it edible. I’m not eating slop when I eat pork–I’m eating pig. Pretty simple.
Think about how everyone extols the virtues of the so-called “Mediterranean” and “Okinawan” diets–what do people of those two regions eat? Pork. Lots and lots of pork. Something that was mysteriously left out of the popular books on the subject. And they’re healthy people, right? Long-lived? It’s not the vegetables, I promise you.
By the way, there’s another method for cooking bacon besides frying it on the stovetop. I use a two-part broiler pan, set the oven to 350 and bake the bacon until it’s fully cooked, turning once. Delish, and still crispy. You’ve baked foods with olive oil on them, right? Same principle. Much less breakdown, much less toxic. The slices also turn out flatter and easier to handle.
The question about turkey bacon hadn’t been answered yet when I started writing this comment: Personally, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I do not knee-jerk reject every processed food that comes along–I think the P word is way overused by people trying to define what is wrong with our food supply–but turkey bacon is entirely an industrial food, is too easily burned and is completely unsatisfying. I’d sooner eat Kleenex, at least then I’d get some fiber too.
Dana Carpender says
Um… guys? Bacon is not a particularly rich source of PUFAs. It’s mostly MUFAS and saturates, with a smidge of PUFAs.
Too, being convinced that ketosis is my friend, I’d take issue with the notion that I should be focusing on lean protein. I aim for 75% of calories from fat…
Rebecca Latham says
“But so many LCers embrace bacon, and aren’t eating that much vegetable in the beginning if they’re doing something like Atkins (it’s certainly not the 5 servings a day called for by the USDA)”
Spoken like a true person who believes the urban legends about Atkins! LOL!
I started Atkins in March 2009. In the earliest stage of Atkins (Induction) I was following the instructions to the letter, and ate almost a pound of vegetables per day. For the past year, I have been doing Atkins with a primal/paleo slant, and the veggies are still way up there.
Most people starting Atkins say that they are eating more vegetables than they have ever eaten.
That being said, I do agree that a lot of LCers do not eat very much vegetables, but if they are doing Atkins as written, they certainly are.
Rebecca Latham says
Dana, I have always wondered why Paleo people say to eat lean protein. Today I heard a podcast at Everyday Paleo, and they said that if you are eating non-organic protein, you should get it lean and/or cut off the visible fat because of the toxins that are stored there due to the way the protein was fed and raised.
On the podcast, they said that if you are eating the “good” organic protein, it is okay for it to be fatty. It’s all about the toxins in the protein, and not trying to cut down on the fat, per se.
So either eat lean, feed lot protein and add good fats, or eat grass-finished, etc., protein that is fatty. Either way, you still get your fat.
I try to keep my fat around 70%.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
We find eggs to be pretty boring after a while, too, which is one reason why we think you shouldn’t overuse eggs as a protein source. Variety is key in choosing protein sources, whether it be grass-fed steak, chicken liver, or bone marrow. There’s good stuff in a variety of places, so eating from the same few sources misses out on some of those benefits. Leigh’s suggestion of salsa and avocado/guacamole is a great one – we do that a lot.
Macadamia oil should be fine for most people who don’t tolerate nuts well (unless it’s an actual allergy), but we wouldn’t cook with it very often. While it’s mostly monounsaturated fat, it’s not as bomber as something like coconut oil (almost all saturated) or even clarified butter. Here’s the deal with the macadamia oil, olive oil, etc.: it’s not the end of the world, but don’t make it your go-to cooking oil.
Thanks for your kind words. We respect your expertise, so it’s great to hear your feedback.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Good question. First, I want to applaud you for improving your awareness and acting on that newfound awareness (i.e. buying fewer CAFO-produced foods). There is no judgment from us whether you buy those foods or not. We (and you) should just do the best we can, and that should be good enough. When we eat out (which we do when traveling), we know the sourcing isn’t always the best, and that has to be okay (no guilt). So to answer your question, no, I’d probably rather have you eat whole omega-3-enriched eggs than just the egg whites, even if they’re factory-farmed. Only ever eating selected parts of an animal isn’t quite right and ends up leaving you unbalanced/deficient (general statement about eating animal parts). Good on you for thinking critically about solutions.
You should NEVER feel “guilty” about a food choice (or fasting choice)! You made a CHOICE, and the consequences are yours alone. So if you skip a meal or two, no big deal. We just see people “intermittent fasting” their way into another form of an eating disorder. One of the major benefits of IF is the tremendous emotional freedom from NOT having to build your life around food all the time,but we don’t recommend IF as a central part of your long-term daily dietary plan. For most folks, it tends to add more stress to an already-overstressed system, and that is NOT helpful. Long story short: missing a meal or two is good for you… sometimes.
We don’t have any good data on different cooking methods, no, but we don’t promote grilling at high temps as your best bet, either. If you do grill, rarer is better (less time on the high temp). Slow cooking in stews and roasts (at lower temps) is a generally better option.
If you ask Pavel Tsatsouline, he’d say eating chicken anytime makes you weak. We’re not convinced of that, but yeah, I hear you on the weirdness factor of eating some things at breakfast time. Seek to break free of those (old) thought processes, and try new things at breakfast! And for clarity, we’re not saying you can never have bacon, but “every morning” might be a bit much. ;) Seek variety!
Turkey bacon is not food. Enough said.
Good question, and a critical one that folks often misunderstand. You’re right – there’s not a ton of PUFA in bacon, but with a large serving size and frequent consumption, it adds up. However, adding more PUFAs from fish oil IS NOT AND SHOULD NOT be thought of as a “fix” for lots of PUFA intake from other sources. The fish oil is prone to oxidation, too, and more PUFAs in your diet are not all good. We’d prefer (and this is what we say in all our workshops) that you fix your diet first (i.e. minimize n-6 intake), and (optionally) use a fish oil dose as a supplement, NOT a solution.
Scotty’s recipes are from a couple years ago, and he’s one of the least neurotic-about-food guys we know. A little olive oil here and there isn’t killer, but feel free to sub it out for something like coconut oil.
Thanks for your input. A point of clarification, though: our immune systems don’t become paranoid with a lack of challenge – autoimmune disease results from excessive amounts of “challenge”, often as a result of increased gut permeability. I like your maître d’hôtel butter idea.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@ALL: Respectfully, I think many of you are missing the point of our post. We’re not specifically calling out bacon as an unhealthy food, or telling anyone not to eat it. And we’re especially not getting all kinds of uptight (or asking YOU to get all kinds of uptight) about the foods choices you are making,
This was simply a post about why you won’t catch us, as nutrition educators, promoting bacon like it’s our full-time job. We advocate for healthy meat choices, and (most importantly) a wide variety of healthy meat choices. To mention bacon in every Twitter tweet, Facebook post and blog article would, we believe, sent our readers the wrong message. Enough with the (bleeping) bacon, people.
We got a LOT of questions from folks asking why we don’t “love” bacon. This was a post explaining why you don’t find a lot of rabid bacon promotion here. That’s all, folks… no more, no less.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Good to hear from you. I think you’ve missed part of our point on bacon, though. It’s not about mathematically balancing 6:3 or any such neurotic behavior, it’s simply about making food choices that consistently push us closer to excellent/optimal health. Bacon every morning, in our opinion, doesn’t do that (and thus, shouldn’t be promoted as a central theme). If kale was as sexy as bacon, we’d expect to see tons of blog posts devoted to kale – but we don’t think that “sexy” is why you should promote a food. We’re with you on the “eat real food” perspective.
Thanks for the solid comment. It seems that our “bacon isn’t your best everyday choice” concept has morphed into “you have to manage your 6:3 ratio at all times” in people’s minds, but that’s not how we intended it. Also, we love your emphasis on food variety! Thanks for stopping by.
First, I think you’ve missed our point. We did NOT write the “case against bacon”, and therefore it’s not necessary to make a rebuttal case why it’s totally okay. To your points:
1. As we wrote, the PUFA content of bacon fat and olive oil are nearly identical (I think you missed the “fat” word). Since we’re talking about the fat profile, we’ll compare fat-to-fat. Check out nutritiondata.com for the numbers. They might surprise you.
2. On your comment (i.e. Mat Lalonde’s comment, since you basically regurgitated his perspective) on nitrates/nitrites, there’s a little more to the story. Here’s where that little thing called “confirmation bias” comes in – you read what you want to read. Sure, nitrate/nitrite is converted to nitric oxide (NO), but that’s arguably good. If you only selected studies that support nitrate-preserved bacon, you can make yourself feel better about it. However, NO is a powerful mediator of chondrocyte (cartilage) breakdown: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3045396/pdf/1471-2474-12-42.pdf Since bacon lacks the powerful antioxidant compounds (polyphenols, etc.) that the vegetable sources of nitrates (and olive oil) would contain, it lacks the ability to partially buffer the reactive oxygen species that work with NO to drive joint degradation. So maybe nitrates/nitrites aren’t a free-for-all. Beware the confirmation bias!
3. We never said a meat was low quality because it was fatty. If it’s low quality, it’s because of what the animal was fed, what it was exposed to, and how it was raised, which… effects the fat quality. We are not fat-phobic at all – but we ARE aware of how meat production practices trickle down into the quality of the meat.
4. Are you really suggesting that Okinawan centenarians live long because of their pork consumption? That’s a real reach, in my opinion.
Dana Carpender and Rebecca Latham,
WHO said to focus on lean protein?? Not us. We say “focus on high-quality protein”, which (depending on the quality of the meat) might be lean or very fatty, depending on the source. Don’t assume that because we’re concerned with food quality that we discourage fat consumption. I don’t track my macronutrient intake, but I’m probably somewhere around 60% fat these days, FYI.
Rebecca Latham says
I guess it was not you, but I have seen other Paleo people, like Cordain and others, say lean protein.
Katie H says
What if you absolutely cannot afford any grass-fed meat, whatsoever? I’m new to Paleo and finding that it alone is far more expensive, forget about adding anything grass-fed. The more I read your blog, in particular, the more I feel that given what I can afford, I’d be better off being a vegetarian.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Katie: Try reading our “Paleo Poor” post – we talk about managing your budget in a healthy way here, including how to maximize the health of your protein sources: http://whole9life.com/2011/01/paleo-poor-your-guide-to-the-grocery-store/
If you can’t afford grass-fed or pastured, your healthiest choices are conventional, lean cuts of beef (hamburger, steak, etc.), or lean meat from other ruminants (like lamb, elk, etc.) And eggs are cheap for protein – even the better quality eggs.
Jan's Sushi Bar says
@Rebecca – I’d like to know how you got in a pound of vegetables eating two cups of salad greens and one cup of cooked low-carb vegetable like broccoli or cabbage while doing induction on Atkins, which is the recommendation. Some how that just doesn’t add up.
We eat family-farmed, pastured (supplemented with non-GMO corn only, no soy), nitrate/nitrite-free bacon on average once a week; usually every other Sunday morning as part of our traditional Sunday brunch, then once every two weeks or so when I make beef liver (also pastured/grass-finished) for my husband and son – while I adore liver of all sorts, smothered with bacon and onions is the only way they’ll eat it. We don’t eat it more often because we only get so much with the whole Berkshire hogs we purchase and the cost is prohibitive if we buy it retail.
I guess my question is, if I want to do Whole30 in June, as I was planning, will eating the small amount of bacon that we do get me kicked out of the club, so to speak?
Rebecca Latham says
Jan, Those recommendations were from many years ago. Since 2002, and in the new book, which I am a success story in on pages 114-115, the recommendations have changed. It is now that you eat 12-15 net carbs from veggies, not the old couple of cups method.
Going by net carbs instead of cups, Atkins Induction vegetables can be up to a pound per day. It is not unusual for me to eat 14 oz. or so of veggies per day, depending on if I eat high net carb veggies or low net carb veggies.
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Jan’s Sushi Bar: Emily Deans (author of the awesome Evolutionary Psychology blog) said she can get her kids to eat large amounts of vegetables by sprinkling them with a small amount of bacon. It’s the best bacon reasoning we’ve heard. (Your liver strategy comes in a close second, though.)
Bacon isn’t categorically excluded on the Whole30 – it just follows the same rules as anything else. No added sugars or nitrates/nitrites are usually the biggest stumbling block, but if you can find bacon without (and it sounds like yours might fit the bill), it’s Whole30 approved.
WOW! Lots of reaction to bacon :-) Well to keep it simple-I love the way you write! Fun, entertaining, informative, persuasive… also I get your message – bacon is a treat, a fat not protein and if I can have a cup (only) of coffee every day or so I’m doing fine with it. I have totally been down the – I CAN EAT BACON-guilt free! Yahoo! and eaten it too often and felt a bit suspicious as well as reading the caffeine is God statements on Paleo T-Shirts and knowing something is not right here. Love you guys! Thanks for working SO hard for us and being SO on top of everything you do! You two are SO attentive and responsive and active!!!!! Oh and both of you are gorgeous! :-) It must be working! Oh and PS – I saw Andy Deas frwd. this bacon write up a while ago and only today had the nerve to read it :-)
What about beef bacon (not pork) like this http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Detail.bok?no=1094
is that a better option or still not preferable?
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Thank goodness that SOMEONE got what we were trying to say! Lots of other people wanted to spin it as “Whole9 says bacon is outlawed” but if people actually took the time to read what we wrote, they’d see that we were simply asking people to think about what they’re doing – just like we did with coffee. (Weird that there wasn’t public outcry on that one… wonder why.)
While US Wellness Meats supplies high-quality meat, we’d prefer if you used a fresher form (than the bacon) most of the time. As a treat, it’s totally fine. But then, we say that about organic, pastured pig bacon, too. ;)
Good stuff- I enjoyed reading this and it highlighted some of my questions and concerns about bacon. I have often been left wondering about the fact that even the best pastured pigs I know of in Northern California still have significant quantities of grain, corn, and/or soy in their diet. Even if they are eating other things that are considered natural or foraged foods, the grain/corn/soy is typically a necessity in the production from an economic and time efficiency standpoint. It’s also pretty near impossible to find good bacon that isn’t packed with sugar in the cure. So in the end I haven’t bought pork bacon in a few months, but have been eating a fair amount of “lamb bacon”!
Actually- that reminds me of another animal-diet related question. Chickens, even pastured organic chickens, are still probably getting a good amount of grain/corn/soy type feed supplements. I wonder about that sometimes…
I’m confused about the nitrate issue…what do you say about Dr. Hord’s study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19439460 that found 80% of dietary nitrates are from vegetable consumption?
And what about this one showing benefits to BP http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20585108
Just wondering what the latest research says about nitrates?
Dallas @ Whole9 says
You’re totally right on the grain-fed poultry, which is why we lean more heavily on ruminants for our protein sources instead of poultry. I think we sometimes get ourselves all worked up to a ridiculous degree – instead, vary your protein sources, choose higher-quality sources as often as possible, and take a deep breath. ;)
Good question. Some research (like the studies that you cite) suggests that the nitrates in our diets (from vegetables) have vasodilatory effects (which is how they help to control hypertension). This is true, but there is an small asterisk next to this statement. The conversion of nitrate to nitrite to nitric oxide (that actually acts as a mediator to promote vasodilation) occurs primarily in a hypoxic/ischemic state, which – importantly – is not physiologically normal conditions. Some conversion takes place in the mouth (by anaerobic bacteria), and it will occur in tissues that are hypoxic during intense exercise or with ischemia (such as angina or a heart attack); thus, it has a protective vasodilatory effect. Like many other things, nitrite/NO may have both good and bad effects, depending on “context”. There’s a lot of research that suggests that some aspects of processed meat (heme iron, oxidized fats, potentially carcinogenic compounds, and preservatives like nitrites) might have some downsides, most of which are “offset” by a nutrient-dense diet where minerals like calcium, antioxidants, polyphenols, chlorophyll and fiber are plentiful. So it’s not just the food itself that has to be considered, it’s the dietary “context”. Which is why we say that processed meats (like bacon) are fine in moderation alongside the rest of your nutrient-dense Paleo-type diet, but in large amounts (displacing nutrient-dense veggies) on a really regular basis, they might not be the best choice.
From the abstract of the first study you referenced: “The presence of nitrates and nitrites in food is associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer and, in infants, methemoglobinemia.” Of course, association doesn’t prove causation, but we don’t completely ignore observational data simply because it’s not 100% causative. Just a thought.
One further point: nitric oxide, while promoting vasodilation, may trigger or participate in the destructive inflammatory cascade that occurs in joints (especially in cases of rheumatoid and osetoarthritis):
“Nitric oxide (NO) is a messenger implicated in the destruction and inflammation of joint tissues.” http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2474-12-42.pdf
So nitrite-derived nitric oxide (or at least high levels of it) might not always be awesome. Just sayin’. The gist is not to argue point-for-point for or against any individual microdetail of a small component of a food. That’s what Michael Pollan calls nutritionism, and he does not use that word complimentarily (is that a word?). The point is simply that the wholesale acquittal of something (in this case, nitrate/nitrite) based on a few studies or only one perspective or an oversimplification can be misleading and might cause people to apply that perspective in a way that is not optimally healthy.
Long story/answer short: nitrate/nitrite is probably fine in amounts normally found in a healthy, highly-varied diet, but that’s somewhat dependent on the “offsetting” of other (generally plant-based) dietary factors that “soften” some of the potential downsides of the processed meats. Remember, the nitrate/nitrite issue is only PART of the issue with processed meats. But… you didn’t ask about that, did you? ;) Thanks for the good question.
Does that (the grain/corn/soy thing) mean eggs (even pastured) aren’t as great as touted?That would suck because i thought eggs were so healthy tasty and cheap as a protein source i love them.
Dallas @ Whole9 says
Don’t get lost down the rabbit hole, brother. Pastured eggs are an excellent food choice. That’s all that needs to be said about that.
Primal Toad says
I agree with what you are saying here. I have been “primal” for 14 months and have always wondered about bacon. People in this community love it so much and eat it daily. I never went there. I buy mine at the farmers market from a farm that is the only animal wellfare approved farm that sells pork.
I buy one lb about once per month. Its enough for me. I prefer a side of ground beef with my eggs!
Thanks for brining up the fat facts on olive oil and lard. If the fat ratios are the same then it does make sense to not cook with it. With that being said… I will still cook my eggs in the bacon fat when I buy that lb. once per month. Cooking it with lard on medium-low heat is ideal for me.
I needed this post because I am a HUGE bacon-whore! I usually get the Nature’s Promise stuff from Giant- it is nitrate free with very little sugar and sodium, but it ain’t pastured, and I think I have been a bit cavalier about my excessive bacon consumption (about a pack a week). Time to slow my roll :(
Melissa @ Whole9 says
@Primal Toad and Julia: Thanks for reading (and getting) the context of the article. Enjoy your bacon once in a while (or, as Amy recommends, as a condiment), but stick to healthier, more dense protein sources for your everyday food.
Thank you Melissa and Dallas for taking a stand on this issue. One thing I think i haven’t seen mentioned is the “sugar on fat on salt on fat on fat” type of thing (don’t quote me on it).
This book: http://www.amazon.com/End-Overeating-Insatiable-American-Appetite/dp/1605297852 explains the premise. Our bodies won’t let us each a large amount of salt, or fat or sugar without stopping or perhaps throwing up BUT if we combine fat with salt or fat with sugar or fat with sugar AND salt, that is a winning addictive combination that fools the body and allows us to eat and eat and eat. Bacon is so addictive because of this.
On first bite I want MORE. So while on Whole30 right now, bacon is OUT for me. It may have to be out forever for , I can’t control myself in the face of salt on sugar on fat.
Thanks again and keep up the good work despite those that want to argue with you ;-)
Shaun Somers says
Well, I suppose I’ll have to shut my blog down completely now ;)
Still, “Bacon Is Health Food” is a bit more catchy than “The Minimum Wage Causes Unemployment” or “Ease Up On The Whole Grains, Eh” when it comes to a website about fighting conventional wisdom.
Most people thought I was totally nuts before I started writing anyway, so I don’t worry much about that part….
Erick E says
So is 2 pieces of bacon a day basically a no-no then?
Melissa @ Whole9 says
That’s a fantastic book – I’ve recommended it to clients many a time. You’re right, the combination of sugar, salt and fat is powerful in the brain, and is exclusively found in heavily processed foods. It may be why so many people are so damn defensive about their bacon.
It sure is catchy – just not entirely accurate, in our view. Thanks for the sense of humor!
If it’s not 100% pastured, organic bacon, we’d say ONE BITE is too much. Factory farmed bacon should be avoided at all costs, both due to the un-healthful properties of the meat and the shameful way we treat pigs in our factory farming system. Otherwise, how much and how often is totally up to you, my friend. We’re not saying “don’t ever eat bacon”, only to honestly and openly review your consumption and make sure it still falls into the “healthy” range according to your own definition.
Erick E says
Thanks for your response. Fortunately I get my bacon from a good source. I am much like Alison, as giving up baked goods and things of that nature was easy for me but the salty stuff was harder. Reading this article on cooking with the bacon fat has been very welcome though, I tend to cook my eggs in the bacon grease but I’ll be ceasing that for sure. Once again thanks for your answer and all you do here!
Maybe this has been mentioned somewhere in the comment thread, but what about the saturated fats? It seems everyone talks about Omega 6 and 3, but saturated fatty acids have the “good” and the “not so good or down right bad” sides too. I thought bacon had what is considered a bad saturated fat profile as it contains palmitic acid. So, it isn’t just the PUFAs you have to consider, but the type of saturated fat in it.
Correct me if I’m wrong, or expand on my understanding… I’ve really been trying to figure that part of the equation out on meats – not just bacon.
Glenn Whitney says
Very well written and entirely sensible! Well done! The normally sensible Mark Sisson seems to be one of those bacon apologists that have distorted the “eat fresh food” Paleo/primal message.