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Bacon has gained a bad reputation in mainstream media because of the high levels of saturated fat and sodium. Are there valid reasons to avoid bacon?
Saturated Fat and Low-Carb Diets
As discussed in this post, there is no evidence that:
- too much saturated fat raises cholesterol
- saturated fat causes heart disease
- high cholesterol causes heart disease
- lowering cholesterol reduces heart disease
- there is a correlation between obesity rates and the amount of fat consumption
- there is a correlation between obesity rates and the amount of protein consumption
The types of fat you should be worried about are toxic trans fats and polyunsaturated fats, particularly high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio.
The true reason for heart disease is inflammation, not saturated fat or cholesterol. Don't be afraid of saturated fat - instead, include a variety of foods high in monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids.
Sodium and Low-Carb Diets
It's a fact that bacon is high in sodium, but is it bad for us? The general advise is to keep sodium low. However, for low-carb ketogenic diets, an increased amount is desired.
The RDA of sodium according to the USDA is 2,300 mg, which may not be enough for a low-carb diet. The reason is that insulin, which also has the effect of reducing the rate at which sodium is extracted through kidneys, drops and it can cause sodium levels to drop significantly, too. Also, as you eliminate processed foods from your diet, your sodium intake will likely be lower than what you've been used to.
You can also check my post about the importance of electrolytes. Increased intake of electrolytes will help you overcome the side effects of giving up carbohydrates (fatigue, cramps and headaches).
So, how much sodium is adequate? You should add about 3,000-5,000 mg in addition to sodium naturally occurring in food (Lyle McDonald, "The Ketogenic Diet"). Don't get the idea that you can eat a cup of salt a day when on low-carb.
100 g / 3.5 oz of bacon contains about 2,000 mg of sodium. Taking everything into account, you shouldn't worry about sodium content in bacon.
How about nitrates found in bacon?
As long as your diet is high in anti-oxidants, nitrates are acceptable in moderation.
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