Some of us health nuts cannot resist depriving ourselves of the real deal, so we decide to accept healthier versions of what we really want via substitutions. Turkey bacon is no exception to this. Turkey meat by default is lower in fat and cholesterol than the fatback or even leaner pork loin cuts from where bacon comes. Sounds like a good alternative to regular ‘ole bacon, right? Well, it can be.
What’s so bad about turkey bacon?
Your typical run of the mill turkey bacon is desperately trying to please your tastebuds. Makers are working with a very very lean and somewhat flavorless turkey meat and attempting to turn this into something as spectacular and delicious as bacon. I feel like this is trying to put on a wolf Halloween costume on the family dog and seeing who is really fooled: no one; however, we still buy it because health.
In the process of attempting to magically turn something dry, lean and flavorless into something juicy, thick and bountiful with an exotic array of smokey flavors, food makers get a little desperate. Not only are they dealing with attempting something very unlikely to be a proper substitute, they need to keep in mind shelf life which is shorter for poultry products.
This is where preservatives and nitrates become both problem solvers and causers for food manufacturers and consumers. The savvy consumer has learned that nitrates, albeit a naturally occurring compound, in large quantities may have carcinogenic effects. The average consumer may not be as concerned with additives and more concerned about the health they will gain by choosing turkey bacon over regular bacon.
Wait, so which is better for you, pork or turkey bacon?
Ultimately it is a close call whether turkey bacon or pork bacon is healthier but here are some comparison points:
• Calorically turkey bacon is about 20 calories less than pork bacon per serving
• Pork bacon contains roughly 3% more protein than turkey bacon
• Turkey bacon contains 1% more iron
• Pork bacon contains 2% more zinc than turkey bacon
• Turkey bacon contains 2% more phosphorus than pork bacon
• Pork bacon contains a whopping 12% more selenium than turkey bacon
• Pork bacon contains almost 10% more niacin than turkey bacon
• Turkey bacon has about ~1% more folate which aids in fertility
• Pork Bacon has about 2% more choline than turkey bacon
• Turkey bacon has 2% less fat than pork bacon and 1% less saturated fat
• Pork bacon has 4% less sodium than pork bacon
Turkey bacon is truly only healthier than pork bacon if you are more concerned about cholesterol, but try to stay away from the high sodium kinds, and for heaven’s sake please try to buy nitrate free bacon where possible, especially for turkey bacon.
As far as who is the winner, the scales are slightly tipped in favor of pork bacon based on nutrients packed into it vs. highlight processed, preservative and sodium packed turkey bacon.
I hope you have enjoyed this, please stay tuned for more blogs about nitrate free bacon!