“Bacon makes everything better,” I’ve heard my culinary school–grad brother say more than once. I roll my eyes, knowing that the reason why it makes everything “better” is that it’s full of fat and salt. Sure it makes everything taste better, but I know that it doesn’t make everything better for you. At least, I thought I knew that, until a recent study was published finding that bacon may actually be good for you!
Bacon contains niacin (vitamin B3), a compound that lowers cholesterol and is used to decrease the risk of heart attack and coronary artery disease. Niacin also tricks the body into believing that it’s exercising, which produces free radicals, an apparently good thing for your health.
Researchers studied the effect of feeding niacin to roundworms. The roundworms that were fed niacin lived 10 percent longer than the control group, which led researchers to conclude that if humans consumed the same amount (relative to size), it could add up to the equivalent of 10 more years of life!
Learning about this study made me think (or more like hope) that maybe bacon could be even better for us than just this one reason. Good news! Here’s what I came up with:
It Can Help You Lose Weight
Studies show that it’s not fat that makes you gain weight, but excessive carbohydrates. Low carb diets help you lose weight by keeping your insulin and your blood sugar stable. Carbs raise insulin levels significantly more than fats do, and the more insulin you have in your bloodstream, the more the food you eat will be stored as fat.
It Keeps You Feeling Full
Bacon is filled with saturated fat (aka the “satiety fat”), which signals an area in your brain to tell you that you’re full. Studies have shown that people who increase fat intake and decrease carbohydrate intake achieve successful and permanent long-term weight loss.
It’s Full of Vitamins
Bacon boasts 65 percent of the recommended daily intake of thiamin (vitamin B1) as well as 47 percent of niacin (vitamin B3), 38 percent of vitamin B12, and 36 percent of zinc. It’s also got a great amount of selenium (a potent antioxidant good for the thyroid), phosphorus (makes movement possible), and choline (good for memory and brain health). It’s filled with so many vitamins and minerals that it could practically be its own supplement!
It Helps You Build Muscle
Bacon contains 3 grams of pure protein, which can help to build muscle and keep your energy going while you work out and repair. It has one of the highest amounts of essential amino acids out there, including tryptophan (important for brain health), leucine (builds muscles), and glutamic acid (essential for your nervous system).
It’s Good for Your Heart
The saturated fat in bacon raises your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), or your “good” cholesterol. The higher your HDL levels, the better your health and the lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Whether you choose to eat bacon for your health or because it tastes good, it’s important that you opt for the best choice. If you want to include bacon in your journey to be your healthiest self, look for bacon that comes from organic pigs and has been preserved using only natural nitrates or nitrites.