Appetizers
January 10, 2013
Countdown to BaconFest: Is bacon actually bad for you?

Cooked_Bacon.jpg

While it is fashionable for foodies to see all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks of bacon, aren't we all missing one key piece of information? Namely, that bacon is bad for you.

Well, I eat bacon. I have friends who eat bacon. I just had lunch with a friend who's a doctor -- and he had thick strips of bacon on his his sandwich, after splitting a pork belly appetizer with yours truly. While we were eating, we were chatting about his running workout that morning. In other words, bacon isn't only for gluttons and those with a death wish.

Are we rationalizing this simply because bacon smells and tastes so good? Maybe. But you don't have to look too far these days to find bacon's defenders.

Joseph Mercola, a well-known and occasionally controversial physician (he is not a fan of immunizations, for instance) recently weighed in, via his popular website, on the not-so-harmful aspects of bacon.

Kegvin Bacon.jpg"Bacon's primary asset is its fat, and that fat-- surprise! - is primarily monounsaturated. Fifty percent of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated, mostly consisting of oleic acid, the type so valued in olive oil. About three percent of that is palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturate with valuable antimicrobial properties. About 40 percent of bacon fat is saturated, a level that worries fat phobics, but is the reason why bacon fat is relatively stable and unlikely to go rancid under normal storage and cooking conditions. That's important, given the fact that the remaining 10 percent is in the valuable but unstable form of polyunsaturates.7

"Pork fat also contains a novel form of phosphatidylcholine that possesses antioxidant activity superior to Vitamin E. This may be one reason why lard and bacon fat are relatively stable and not prone to rancidity from free radicals.8

"Bacon fat from pastured pigs also comes replete with fat-soluble vitamin D, provided it's bacon from foraging pigs that romp outdoors in the sun for most of year. Factory-farmed pigs kept indoors and fed rations from soy, casein, corn meal, and other grains, are likely to show low levels of Vitamin D."

We don't often give medical advice on this blog, so I will stop short of saying that moderate consumption of bacon will make you live longer or give you super-human strength. But bacon just may be OK for you after all.

And during BaconFest, it's more than OK to let your guard down, indulge a little and, say, balance it out by eating a few extra salads (hold the bacon bits) after it's all said and done.

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.

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