Bacon is delicious! It’s one of the most popular breakfast foods and is part of many lunch and dinnertime recipes too. Who can resist the smell of bacon cooking? Even some vegetarians say that the smell of bacon makes them want to eat meat again.
Bacon is also a keto diet staple, and low-carb dieters swear by bacon, not just eating it for breakfast but as a snack too. Paleo dieters even eat bacon dipped in dark chocolate…
But bacon is also something of a nutritional villain. It’s made from cured pork, which means it is both high in fat and may contain chemicals called nitrates. It’s usually high in salt too. As such, a lot of people avoid bacon or eat it very infrequently.
Turkey bacon is often sold as a healthy alternative to pork bacon. It’s lower in calories and fat, so it stands to reason that it’s better for you, right?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some turkey bacon nutrition facts to determine if it really is the healthier choice.
Nutrition Facts of Turkey Bacon
Needless to say, turkey bacon is made from turkey. Unlike red meats like beef and pork, turkey is low in saturated fat and high in protein, which is why it’s often recommended as part of weight-loss diets.
Two slices (one ounce/16 grams) of turkey bacon contains the following:
- 60 calories
- 5 grams carbs
- 7 grams protein
- 5 grams fat
- 3 grams saturates
In addition, turkey bacon contains several vitamins and minerals in beneficial amounts:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
Health Benefits of Eating Turkey Bacon
There are several reasons to eat turkey bacon. The main benefits are:
Weight loss – Turkey bacon is high in protein but low in fat and calories. High protein, low-fat foods are filling, and the protein increases your metabolism for faster, easier weight loss. Eating turkey bacon instead of pork bacon could save you a few calories, aiding in weight loss.
Muscle retention – Muscle mass tends to decline after the third decade. This is called sarcopenia. Muscle loss is associated with a reduction in functional strength. Eating high protein foods like turkey bacon can help preserve muscle mass, making sarcopenia less impactful.
Faster recovery from exercise – Intense exercise causes catabolism or muscle breakdown. Consuming protein after exercise helps repair this damage, leading to a faster recovery. Turkey bacon is low in fat and high in protein, making it a fast-acting food that is ideal after exercise.
While turkey has the potential to be healthy, there are still a few reasons to be cautious about eating it. It DOES contain less fat than regular bacon, but possible drawbacks and health risks include:
High sodium content – Two strips of turkey bacon contains about 360mg of sodium, which is 15% of the daily recommended amount. Sodium is used as both a flavor enhancer as well as a preservative. Eating too much salt can lead to increased blood pressure. People trying to consume less salt should look for low-sodium turkey bacon.
Harmful preservatives – Sodium is not the only preservative in turkey bacon. Most turkey bacon products also contain nitrates and nitrites. Both of these substances are present in tiny amounts but are linked to an increased risk of stomach and throat cancer. Thankfully, there are nitrate and nitrite-free turkey bacon brands.
A processed meat product – Like regular bacon, turkey bacon is a processed meat product. All types of processed meat are thought to increase the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. A few slices of turkey bacon probably won’t do you any harm, but eaten in excess, it could be bad for your health.
Poultry allergies are very rare. Foods like chicken and turkey are usually well tolerated by most.
That said, if you have a down or feather allergy, there is a chance you could be allergic to turkey too.
If you have a known allergy to poultry, you should avoid turkey bacon. Symptoms to be aware of include:
Swelling of the lips or tongue
Elevated heart rate
Seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms after eating turkey.
Food Safety and Preparation
Turkey bacon is a processed, preserved meat product, so it should remain edible for a long time. Take a look at the “best before” date, and make sure that you use your product before that time.
Once opened, a pack of turkey bacon should remain edible for 3-5 days when refrigerated. Out of the fridge, it should be cooked and eaten in 8-12 hours. Turkey bacon can also be frozen.
There are several ways to cook turkey bacon, including:
- Shallow fried
Avoid cooking turkey bacon for too long. Overcooked, charred meat can be a source of carcinogens. For food hygiene reasons, turkey bacon should never be reheated. However, it’s fine to cook it and then eat cold later.
Turkey bacon contains less fat and fewer calories than pork bacon. Because of this, it’s useful on weight-loss diets and maybe marginally healthier than “real” bacon. But, because it still contains sodium and nitrates, turkey bacon is not exactly a healthy food. After all, it’s a processed meat product.
Turkey bacon cooks quickly and easily and tastes pretty good too. It’s a good filling for sandwiches and is interchangeable with regular bacon in your favorite recipes and dishes. It tastes similar enough that you may not even notice the difference.
That said, all processed meat products are marginally unhealthy because they contain artificial and potentially harmful additives. While switching from pork to turkey bacon will save you a few calories and a little fat, you’ll still end up consuming the chemicals that make processed meat products unhealthy.
Whether you eat regular or turkey bacon, processed meat products should make up a very small percentage of your food intake. As such the difference between a couple of slices of turkey or pork bacon is negligible.