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You Ask, I Answer: Turkey Bacon

g25825828a52574bb2a79cf8342ce45836cd560d6733ce5Is turkey bacon/ham really better for you than regular bacon and ham?

– @Beth_Pettit
Via Twitter

No.

Both are high in sodium (approximately 325 milligrams of sodium per measly ounce!) and highly processed.

Turkey bacon and ham are lower in total and saturated fat, but not in amounts significant enough to classify it as healthier.

An ounce of turkey ham contains 0.4 grams of saturated fat; an ounce of conventional ham provides 0.8 grams.

Classifying turkey bacon and ham as healthier than conventional varieties is like saying that Coca-Cola is healthier than orange soda because it has 12 fewer grams of sugar.

I recommend taking it easy with all processed meat products — including soy-based faux cold cuts.  They are low on nutrients, high in sodium, and most contain troublesome preservatives (mainly nitrites and nitrates).

My advice?  Keep the bacon to two strips with brunch every Sunday.

As far as cold cuts go — if you love them in a sandwich, treat yourself to two slices a week — no more.

The evidence linking frequent consumption of processed meats with increased risk of stomach, colon, and prostate cancer is too strong to ignore.

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5 Comments

  1. Jenn said on October 25th, 2009

    Same for turkey sausage, right, despite “The Biggest Loser” endorsement on Jennie-O?

  2. Kristin said on October 25th, 2009

    Is it the nitrites/nitrates in the meat that are associated with stomach, colon and prostate cancer? I try to buy nitrate free ham, bacon and hot dogs only. I know nitrates are bad for you, but I never knew why.

  3. Katherine said on October 25th, 2009

    As far as cold cuts are concerned, what about the organic varieties? Do they still contain nitrites/nitrates that we should be concerned about?

  4. Beth Pettit said on October 26th, 2009

    Thank you! My mother is always trying to push turkey bacon/ham/whatever on me like it’s the best this every to happen since sliced bread. She was over the other day and saw I had gone to the butcher and gotten real ham and gave me a motherly “tisk tisk”. I’ve also seen in magazines and various other places to get ‘turkey bacon’ in stead of real bacon. I’m glad to know it doesn’t matter. If I’m going to eat bacon or ham, it just feels weird getting turkey pretending to be pork. Might as well get the real thing. Thanks for clearing it up! :)

    Also, color me stupid, I didn’t realize bacon was considered ‘processed meat’.

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