Yes, bacon can be part of a healthy diet. Here’s how to use the flavorful ingredient in your cooking.

Advertisement

It's hard to deny that bacon possesses magical qualities. Bacon gets people out of bed in the morning, turns basic dishes into flavorful favorites and gives new life to classic recipes. Everything about bacon, from its smoky perfume to its salty, yet subtly, sweet bite screams, "Eat me! Eat lots of me!"

But here's where the fairy tale ends: If you sit down to a plate full of bacon regularly, you will probably face some consequences. That's because, though bacon does have its virtues, being a health food isn't one of them. Eating a 3-ounce portion of bacon will set you back 398 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat (the American Heart Association recommends we cap our intake at 13 grams per day) and 1,430 mg of sodium, which, for those following a heart healthy diet, is just 70 mg shy of the recommended daily limit.

7860780.jpg

Like so many good things in life, it's important to use bacon in moderation. "Sure, bacon isn't the healthiest food out there, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it from time to time," says EatingWell senior digital editor, Victoria Seaver, M.S., RD. "Plus, there are some upsides to bacon—a single 1-ounce slice delivers 4 grams of protein, which can help you to feel more satisfied after a meal. And you can even find uncured bacon at many stores now, which helps cut down the total amount of salt per serving." Lucky for us, bacon is so powerful that using just a little bit goes a long way. Here are four easy tips to enjoy bacon as part of a healthy diet.

4 Ways to Enjoy Bacon

Use It as a Garnish

Instead of having bacon take up real estate on your plate, treat it as a garnish like we do with this delicious Cauliflower Soup (pictured above). Sprinkling bacon on top of the dish not only makes it look delicious, but also gives the impression that there is a lot more bacon per serving (when really there is just a little), which helps you feel satisfied.

Keep Your Portions Reasonable

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders with Cucumber-Ranch Dressing

A good rule of thumb for a reasonable portion size of bacon is about one ounce per person. That's one slice per person, which comes in at around 44 calories and 1 gram of saturated fat. Plus, that one piece of bacon is so flavorful, it goes a long way. Especially when you use it as part of a larger recipe, like wrapping it around chicken tenders.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Fat

How you cook bacon influences how healthy it is in the long run. The healthiest way to cook bacon is to cook it until crispy (but not burned), which allows the most fat to melt off. Then, drain it on a paper towel or brown paper bag to remove even more fat before eating. The more fat that is absorbed by the paper towels or paper, the less saturated fat you will consume, which is helpful when it comes to your heart.

Buy Bacon That Has a Big, Bold, Smoky Flavor

a bowl of broccoli salad

Pictured recipe: Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Bacon has an umami-rich, salty taste, but it also has a subtly smoky aroma. If you buy and taste different bacons, you'll notice that there's quite a bit of difference in terms of how smoky each is. Try double-smoked or cob-smoked bacon. You can use less of it for a bigger flavor impact.