Bacon the NEW Health Food

Found this and thought we might like it….
Especially as so many of my friends like our Gloucester Old Spot pork and are following a ‘Paleo’ style diet.

The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth: Another Reason not to Fear Bacon
By Chris Kresser on October 5, 2012 in Cancer, Food & Nutrition, Heart Disease, Myths & Truths, Paleo Diet | 379 comments

Beyond just being loaded with “artery-clogging saturated fat” and sodium, bacon has been long considered unhealthy due to the use of nitrates and nitrites in the curing process. Many conventional doctors, and well-meaning friends and relatives, will say you’re basically asking for a heart attack or cancer by eating the food many Paleo enthusiasts lovingly refer to as “meat candy”.

The belief that nitrates and nitrates cause serious health problems has been entrenched in popular consciousness and media. Watch this video clip to see Steven Colbert explain how the coming bacon shortage will prolong our lives thanks to reduced nitrates in our diets.

In fact, the study that originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused the scare in the first place has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review. There have been major reviews of the scientific literature that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic. Further, recent research suggests that nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, they may be beneficial, especially for immunity and heart health. Confused yet? Let’s explore this issue further.

Bacon: the new health food?

It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of nitrate/nitrite exposure comes not from food, but from endogenous sources within the body. (1) In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure. In other words, your spit contains far more nitrites than anything you could ever eat.

When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. (2) And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them! So before you eliminate cured meats from your diet, you might want to address your celery intake. And try not to swallow so frequently.

All humor aside, there’s no reason to fear nitrites in your food, or saliva. Recent evidence suggests that nitrites are beneficial for immune and cardiovascular function; they are being studied as a potential treatment for hypertension, heart attacks, sickle cell and circulatory disorders. Even if nitrites were harmful, cured meats are not a significant source, as the USDA only allows 120 parts per million in hot dogs and bacon. Also, during the curing process, most of the nitrite forms nitric oxide, which binds to iron and gives hot dogs and bacon their characteristic pink color. Afterwards, the amount of nitrite left is only about 10 parts per million.

And if you think you can avoid nitrates and nitrites by eating so-called “nitrite- and nitrate-free” hot dogs and bacon, don’t be fooled. These products use “natural” sources of the same chemical like celery and beet juice and sea salt, and are no more free from nitrates and nitrites than standard cured meats. In fact, they may even contain more nitrates and nitrites when cured using “natural” preservatives.

It’s important to understand that neither nitrate nor nitrite accumulate in body. Ingested nitrate from food is converted into nitrite when it contacts our saliva, and of the nitrate we eat, 25% is converted into salivary nitrite, 20% converted into nitrite, and the rest is excreted in the urine within 5 hours of ingestion. (3) Any nitrate that is absorbed has a very short half-life, disappearing from our blood in under five minutes. (4) Some nitrite in our stomach reacts with gastric contents, forming nitric oxide which may have many beneficial effects. (5, 6) You can listen to my podcast “Does Red Meat Increase Your Risk of Death?“ for more information on this topic.

In general, the bulk of the science suggests that nitrates and nitrites are not problematic and may even be beneficial to health. Critical reviews of the original evidence suggesting that nitrates/nitrites are carcinogenic reveals that in the absence of co-administration of a carcinogenic nitrosamine precursor, there is no evidence for carcinogenesis. (7) Newly published prospective studies show no association between estimated intake of nitrite and nitrite in the diet and stomach cancer. (8) Nitric oxide, formed by nitrite, has been shown to have vasodilator properties and may modulate platelet function in the human body, improving blood pressure and reducing heart attack risk. (9, 10, 11) Nitrates may also help boost the immune system and protect against pathogenic bacteria (12, 13, 14)

So what do we take from this? There’s no reason to fear nitrates and nitrites in food. No reason to buy nitrate-free, uncured bacon. No reason to avoid cured meats in general, particularly those from high quality sources. In fact, because of concerns about trichinosis from pork, it makes a lot more sense in my opinion to buy cured bacon and other pork products. I do.

Have I changed your mind about the safety of eating bacon? Let me know your thoughts on nitrates and nitrites in the comments below

The TRUTH About Bacon

The TRUTH About Bacon

When people today think of bacon, they think of clogged arteries, love handles, and sin.
But is that right – eating bacon means that you’re destined for heart disease, a fat belly, and a lifetime on heart meds and endless visits to your GP.

But, thinking this way is a terrible misconception. In truth, bacon is a very good addition to your diet, and should be something enjoyed more often than you indulge in toast and jam, porridge and honey.

Bacon is not an unhealthy food when chosen correctly. By reading this article, you’ll learn why and how to properly add bacon to your diet.

What Is Bacon?

Bacon is a cured meat usually from the pig, naturally treated to prevent the meat from going off using salt, and often nitrites. It also includes natural fat (known as lard).

Bacon usually comes from either the belly of the pig, the back, or the sides. The amount of fat (lard) in bacon depends on how fat the pig is, with the belly usually being fattier than the back. Most traditional breeds lay down more fat if intensively fed.  Free range pigs tend to be less fat.

Today, you can also find bacon made from turkey. But if you read the label of turkey bacon, it contains a laundry list of ingredients, many of which are not good for you such as hydrolysed corn gluten, soy protein, wheat gluten, disodium inosinate, silicon dioxide and nitrites.

Europeans Have It Right

All over Germany, pork reigns supreme. From bacon to sausage to lard – no part of the pig is left unused. And, if you take a good look at traditional Germans, you will notice that they are not as overweight as many of us in the UK, nor suffer the same incidences of chronic disease.

Many Europeans still use lard for most of their baking and cooking. We also used to incorporate a lot of lard into our daily diets, but then our government started telling us that pig fat was too “saturated” and unhealthy, so, we shifted to the use of hydrogenated plant oils (aka., vegetable fat) which actually made us sicker, fatter, and more diseased.

 

Why Bacon is Better

To understand why bacon, and the fat it’s rich in (lard), is a healthy choice for us to use in our diets along with other beneficial fats and proteins, let’s look at the nutritional science of this food.

If we take 1 tablespoon of pure lard, we see that is consists of an even balance of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, with some polyunsaturates and cholesterol (all animal fats contain cholesterol – remember not ALL cholesterol is bad!), but no trans fats.

Specifically Lard contains*:

• 5.9 grams of saturated fatty acids
• 6.4 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 2 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly omega-6)
• 14 mg cholesterol
*analysis from Mass Spectrometry at University of Alberta, 2003

Vegetable shortening contains**:

• 3.8 grams saturated fatty acids
• 6.7 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 3.9 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (most omega-6)
• 2 grams trans fatty acids (man-made)
• 0 mg cholesterol
**analysis from ESHA Food Processor

These trans fats found in this man-made, fake lard substitute, have now been linked directly to heart disease, morbidity and mortality, and there is a strong move to rid our shelves of this dangerous fat as soon as possible. You should NEVER consume trans fats EVER!

Saturated Fat is Not Bad

Some people still think saturated fats are evil, and as a result have banned bacon from their homes. However, fat experts today emphasize that saturated fat from natural sources like meats, dairy, and tropical oils (coconut, palm) are not detrimental for our health, but instead much better than the polyunsaturated and hydrogenated substitutes we’ve been using in recent years.

I can hear you saying ‘ Here we go, yet more conflicting information’ it can be confusing to tell yourself that saturated fat isn’t bad like we once thought. However, it’s important that you realize we have been fed bad advice and processed foods that have only made us fatter, sicker, and unhealthy. We need to change this way of thinking.

The bottom line is that saturated fats, like that found in bacon, CAN and SHOULD fit into a healthy diet – a diet low in sugar, processed carbohydrates, and synthetic chemicals, but high in fresh low-pesticide vegetables, organic meats and fish, and nuts and seeds.

Essential Omega-6 and Omega-3 Balance

What about the omega-6 fats in bacon? Some people feel that bacon and other foods containing omega-6 polyunsaturated fats should be minimized, and a focus placed on omega-3 fats such as fish, flax, and certain nuts – which is both true and untrue.

It is correct that we should try to keep a fairly close balance between the omega-6 fats (found in most meats and some nuts and seeds) and the omega-3 fats, but we can’t completely eliminate omega-6s in favour of omega-3s.

Your body needs omega-6s because they are ESSENTIAL – meaning necessary for proper metabolic and physiologic function.
It’s more important to maintain a healthy ratio of omega-6 fats found in foods like bacon, with omega-3 fats found in DHA-enriched eggs (those fed with extra rations of linseeds) and omega-3 rich fish.

For example, a great breakfast combination would be a few slices of bacon with omega-3 DHA eggs topped with organic salsa and avocado. Delicious and nutritious!

The Science of Bacon Fat

In 2003, a research study at the University of Alberta, USA looking at the effects of a high bacon fat diet vs. a high palm oil diet had on the cholesterol levels and inflammation profiles of ten healthy men.

The men were given meals like:

• (BLLTs) Bacon, Lettuce, Lard and Tomato sandwiches
• Hash Browns cooked in lard
• Bacon and Egg Omelets cooked in lard

After 6 weeks on each diet, their blood was analysed for cholesterol synthesis rates, cholesterol, and triglyceride concentrations, and markers of inflammation.

What was found was that the high lard diet compared to the high palm oil diet produced significantly lower total cholesterol, and total-cholesterol/HDL cholesterol levels, with slightly lower LDL-cholesterol and inflammatory marker levels.

What this means is that fat from lard may be less harmfull and inflammatory than fat from palm oil. This does not mean that palm oil is a bad fat, but instead suggests that lard may be better when consumed often.

Choosing Healthy Bacon

Now that you know that the fat in bacon is not bad for you, or harmful for your health, don’t immediately go out and purchase bacon and eat it everyday.

First, you need to look for bacon that is nitrite-free.

Nitrite (sodium nitrite) is a preservative used in bacon to not only prevent spoilage, but also keep bacon a nice red colour.

However, nitrite is also a known carcinogen and is related to increased risk and incidences of cancer.

So, if you do decide to choose bacon to help you either stick to a lower carbohydrate diet, or just eat instead of toast and jam, make sure you choose wisely – natural nitrite free bacon is the best.

With bacon, you don’t have to worry about the pig being full of artificial or natural growth hormones, because these are not allowed to be used on pigs.

Eat a Better Breakfast

Now you know that bacon is a good breakfast food, but it can also be used to enhance the taste of your favourite salads for lunch, or as a side dish at dinner.

No matter what you choose to do with your diet, bacon or not, remember that bacon is not bad for you, and will not ruin your health. Also, when eaten in the context of a low-sugar, unprocessed diet, it will not make you as fat as a pig!

Enjoy!