Healthy-eating fans often tout turkey bacon as a great alternative to regular bacon. However, just like pork bacon, the turkey variety is fairly high in sodium, fat and even calories. A serving now and then won’t hurt, but it’s pretty hard to honestly answer “yes” to the question “Is turkey bacon healthy?” Thanks to its sodium and fat content, eating too much of it is likely to derail your nutrition goals. When it comes to this breakfast treat, moderation is key.
General Information about Turkey Bacon
If you’re wondering “Is turkey bacon healthy?” it’s a good idea to learn how this food is made. Turkey bacon’s original counterpart, pork bacon, comes from a cut of fresh meat. Bacon from turkey is entirely different. Food companies must process turkey meat in an attempt to make it resemble regular bacon.
Manufacturers grind turkey meat and arrange it in alternating strips of dark and light so that turkey bacon will resemble genuine pork bacon. The ground meat comes from both the skin and the muscle – whether breast or thigh – of the bird. A brine solution can help manufacturers achieve the color used for the dark sections.
Diners looking for a healthy alternative to pork bacon may use turkey bacon on salads, in sandwiches and as a breakfast meat. Its taste and appearance are similar to those of pork bacon, but the two varieties are not a spot-on flavor match.
Turkey is, of course, one of the main ingredients in a package of turkey bacon. The meat ground and shaped into bacon-size strips.
Because consumers want this version of bacon to taste as much like pork bacon as possible, a package of turkey bacon also contains a number of additives designed to lend flavor and texture. The ingredients may include:
- Mechanically separated turkey.
- Oils, such as sunflower or canola.
- Smoke flavoring.
- Sodium nitrite.
- Sodium phosphate.
- Potassium lactate.
- Sodium erythorbate.
- Sodium diacetate.
- Extracts from herbs or spices.
Dangers of Turkey Bacon
One of the biggest reasons that you can’t provide a positive answer to the “Is turkey bacon healthy?” question is that this meat can be quite high in sodium. In fact, turkey bacon usually contains more sodium than pork bacon does. Consuming too much sodium may elevate your blood pressure. However, there are some brands of turkey bacon that offer low-sodium varieties.
Although turkey bacon typically has less fat than pork bacon does, it is not a fat-free food. In fact, many of the calories in this type of bacon come from its fat content. The fat in turkey bacon isn’t necessarily a heart-healthy variety either; some of the fat may even be the saturated type, which should comprise only 10 percent of your caloric intake each day.
Most turkey bacon is cured with nitrates and nitrates, which are salts used for preservation. Although these ingredients occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables, their presence in meat products is controversial. Under some cooking circumstances, these ingredients could cause cancer-causing chemicals to form. Although evidence about their everyday dangers is inconclusive, you may prefer to avoid them.
Are There Benefits for Turkey Bacon?
So is turkey bacon healthy? Well, it’s certainly not a health food. However, it can be included in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. For one thing, turkey bacon contains some good-for-you nutrients. These include protein, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and folate. Granted, turkey bacon is not bursting with any of these nutrients, but a few slices of bacon will help you get a little closer to your recommended daily intake of them.
If you have a craving for the taste of bacon but are on a low-calorie diet, turkey bacon is a better choice for you than pork bacon. Because turkey bacon has less fat than pork bacon, it also contains significantly fewer calories. Some brands of pork bacon have 80 calories or more in a 15-gram serving. On the other hand, some turkey bacon manufacturers produce 15-gram servings that contain fewer than 30 calories.
So, no, turkey bacon isn’t the best thing you could eat, but it’s also not the worst. If you need a low-calorie alternative to regular pork bacon, feel free to fry up a pan of turkey bacon. You can reduce the fat content by cooking the strips on an indoor grill that allows the grease to drip off. Just remember to eat bacon in moderation in order to control your sodium intake.
Do you have friends who are convinced that turkey bacon is an important part of their balanced diets? If so, consider sharing your newfound knowledge on “Is turkey bacon healthy?” with them. This information may help keep them from consuming too much sodium with their morning meals.
What is your experience with turkey bacon? If you’re a bacon connoisseur, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the “Is turkey bacon healthy?” question.