You’re ordering a breakfast burrito and you have a choice between turkey bacon or pork bacon. You may prefer pork, but your calorie- and fat-conscious conscience is telling you to opt for turkey. So you choose the alternative, hoping that your body will thank you later.
What may surprise you, however, is that turkey bacon is still high in saturated fat and sodium (both increase your risk of heart disease) and is actually not as healthy as many people believe. Eating just 2 ounces of either turkey or pork bacon brings you close to the American Heart Association's 2,300-milligram sodium limit for the day (for optimal heart health, aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams). Here’s a comparison of both types of bacon and how you can enjoy any kind of bacon without (too much) guilt.
Turkey bacon is dark and light turkey meat that’s seasoned and pressed to look like bacon. Turkey bacon has fewer calories per serving (about 220 calories versus pork’s 270 calories) and less total fat (about 8 grams less than pork). But it still has about 4 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Pork bacon is made from the belly of the pig. It contains more vitamin B than turkey bacon, which is essential for cell metabolism, and selenium, which protects from oxidative damage and infection. Pork bacon also has more protein per serving that turkey bacon (20 grams vs. turkey’s 17 grams).
Both bacon varieties are not healthy foods and you should eat them sparingly (less than once a week). But you might like to hear this advice: “If you really love pork bacon, you’re better off eating that and really enjoying it, but limiting your portion and how often you eat it,” says Sharon Richter, RD, a registered dietitian based in New York City.
If you do choose to eat bacon, follow these tips to minimize the damage to your heart: