Over the years, turkey bacon has been looked at as the “healthier bacon” compared to pork. It is believed to be healthier since it has fewer calories and fat, but it is important to note that turkey bacon is still a processed meat, which can make it a health hazard. Whether you're choosing turkey bacon for reduced calories, a different flavor, or because you need or want to avoid pork, you should be mindful of how much turkey bacon you consume. Today, let's take a look at what turkey bacon is, its nutritional information, and its health benefits and risks.
What Is Turkey Bacon?
Turkey bacon is made from turkey instead of pork, which is considered traditional. Turkey bacon is made by using ground turkey meat, adding seasonings, and shaping them into bacon strips. Because it is a processed meat, preservatives are also added into the mix. Although the makeup of this bacon is different than pork, it is still cooked similarly. Turkey bacon can be cooked in the oven, microwaved, or pan-fried.
Turkey bacon is known for having less calories and fat than pork bacon. One strip of turkey bacon has approximately 30 calories and 2.1 grams of fat, whereas pork bacon has 43 calories and 3.1 grams of fat. Another important thing to note is that turkey bacon has about one gram less protein than pork bacon. Otherwise, a lot of the other measured vitamins and minerals are similar for both turkey and bacon pork. Some of these include zinc, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, and sodium levels.
Turkey bacon is a great bacon option for anyone with dietary needs who needs to avoid consuming pork bacon. It's a “healthier” option in the sense that it has fewer calories and fat than pork bacon. If you're looking to consume fewer calories and fat, then turkey bacon can help you accomplish this.
Turkey bacon is a great alternative for those who don't or can't consume pork, whether it's for religious, health, or allergy reasons. Although the flavor is not exactly the same, turkey bacon still has a good flavor from the seasonings added to it. It is salty, smoky, and meaty, just like regular bacon.
Because it is a processed meat, turkey bacon has more health risks than it has health benefits. Some of these include having less protein, being high in sodium, and containing preservatives.
Too Much Sugar and Less Protein
It is important to note that although turkey bacon has fewer calories than pork bacon, that doesn't mean that it is a low-calorie food. It is still relatively high in calories at 30 calories a slice. Turkey bacon also has less protein than pork bacon. In addition, more sugar is added to turkey bacon to improve its texture and taste. This leads to having more carbohydrates than pork bacon. If you need to be aware of your sugar consumption, there are turkey bacon options that have no added sugars.
High Sodium Content
Turkey bacon also has a higher sodium count than pork bacon because salt is a natural preservative as well as a flavor enhancer. Two strips of turkey bacon can have approximately 328 milligrams of sodium. And if we're being honest, it's hard to eat only two pieces of bacon! We often go back for more, which can be dangerous as the sodium will add up quickly. A diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure and even be harmful to the brain and kidneys.
Preservatives are another thing to keep in mind when consuming turkey bacon. Nitrates and nitrites (preservatives) are added to extend the shelf life of turkey bacon. However, it has been studied and shown that these preservatives can increase the risk of cancer like colon, throat, breast, lung, and stomach cancer. This happens because these preservatives are believed to produce something called nitrosamines, which are cancer-causing compounds. Because of this, turkey bacon must be eaten in moderation. There have been studies that show regular consumption of processed foods can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Overall, the answer to “Is turkey bacon healthy?” is no. Although it's considered to be a healthier version of pork bacon, that does not make it a healthy food. Turkey bacon is a healthier option if you're looking to consume fewer calories and fat, but it should not be considered healthy. It is higher in sodium, which can cause blood pressure issues as well as damage to the brain and kidneys. It also contains preservatives, which are known to cause cancer as well as increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. But, even with all this, it doesn't mean that you can't eat turkey bacon. It is just important that you understand it is best consumed in moderation.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 slices turkey bacon
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for brushing
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Butterfly each chicken breast by slicing horizontally, creating a pocket for stuffing.
- In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Rub this seasoning mix on both sides of each chicken breast.
- Stuff each chicken breast with chopped spinach and crumbled feta cheese.
- Wrap each stuffed chicken breast with two slices of turkey bacon, securing with toothpicks if necessary.
- In an oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on all sides until the turkey bacon is golden brown.
- Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing. Remove toothpicks before serving.
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