How does bacon impact the body's physiology?

The question was asked by a Science To Life reader using the "Make a Request" icon. He asked:
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I am interested in how bacon impacts the body. Is it filling because it has fat that is useful for delaying hunger and quelling the appetite? Is it not damaging because of nitrates or nitrates used in production/preparation? Is it not to be avoided as a fatty heavy protein the body finds hard to metabolize?

To answer this question, I turned to fitness expert and author Louiza Patsis MS. Here is her response:

High levels of nitrates have been linked to adverse health effects in humans, such as bladder cancer. They are harmful because they may combine with hemoglobin to create a form of it that does not bind oxygen. Nitrates are found not only in cured meats, but in vegetables and other preservatives. My guess is that if one does not eat a lot of bacon (such as daily or weekly), the effects would be minimal or nothing. You can browse through medical journal articles on for more information (see: c.pdf and

If you are concerned about fat, just cook the bacon more-this eliminates most fat. It may taste better crispy too. Turkey bacon probably has less fat than pork bacon-check the label. Be careful not to burn and then eat the fat or meat; burned barbecued or other meat may be carcinogenic and hard to digest.

As for quelling the appetite, I'd say you want more bacon or eggs, but it may vary by individual. Celery, carrots and chewing gum can do the same.

If you go on an Atkins diet to lose weight and enjoy omelettes and bacon and such, it works for about two weeks. However, I do not advise it for longer than two weeks or twice a year for several reasons: first, it is not advisable to eat too much fat; secondly, carbohydrates are necessary for the body and should never be excluded entirely or close to that. Always consult a physician first before dieting. You may also want to call or email a nutritionist, or consult a nutrition book.

I invite you to check out Pocket Guide to Fitness, my book on In it, you'll find a section on the mind-body connection and psychology of exercise, science facts, stretching and, of course, exercise programs for different muscles.

More about Louiza Patsis: Louiza received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from New York University in May 1993, and a Masters of Science in biomedical journalism from New York University in May 1997. Her books include: The Boy in a Wheelchair; Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories and Pocket Guide to Fitness: All You Need to Know to Start Working Out Effectively.

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I Am Not A Nutritionist (nor even particularly healthy), but I never let that stop me. So here goes:

For turkey bacon vs pork bacon, if you check the labels, I think you'll find that the difference in total fat is not all that great -- turkey bacon still has a lot of fat. Rather, the turkey bacon has less cholesterol and less highly saturated fat.

As far as cooking bacon "more," I suggest starting with a cold pan and adding a cup or two of plain water to the pan, depending on the size of the pan and the amount of bacon. Turn the heat on to medium-low. As the water temperature passes the melting point of pork fat, the fat will melt out of the bacon long before the bacon has a chance to brown and crisp. Once the water is completely evaporated, the rendered fat will increase in temperature (i.e., above 100 C.) and the bacon will brown very quickly, leaving most of the fat in the pan.

This is similar to how lardons are prepared for soups and salads in French cuisine.

What about the chicken fried bacon so popular at a resturant in Snook, TX?

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 23 Jun 2008 #permalink