Scientists have recently confirmed that bacon is just as harmful for human health as smoking cigarettes. Here’s how bacon is likely to harm your overall health.
How much do you love a barbecue bacon cheeseburger? Way too much to define it in words, isn’t it? But the recent World Health Organization report may make you want to question your love! Scientists have recently confirmed that bacon is just as harmful for human health as smoking cigarettes. This researched was based on a decision of the WHO. It decided to brand processed meats as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ and list them with other such substances like asbestos, alcohol and cigarettes. In October 2015, the WHO officially listed processed meats in the category of carcinogenic substances. The report also found that there is sufficient proof to suggest that the consumption of processed meat can result in colorectal cancer. N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are the two most important harmful substances found in processed meat.
Dietician Monisha Ashokan says, “Any type of processed food loses its natural characteristics, making it unfit for consumption. Bacon (part of pork) is processed meat just like sausages, ham, salami etc. It is treated with salt, nitrates and sometimes sugar, and furthermore smoked to enhance flavour and improve preservation. The nitrates added can be harmful and can be a reason for cancer. However the carcinogenic effect depends on the processing technique, quality of pork, gut bacteria, oxygen in the blood, antioxidants to fight. The fat composition of bacon is 60% of saturated fat (not heart friendly and cholesterol rich) and 40% of MUFA which is considered to be heart healthy.
As per the research by an independent organisation of the WHO, processed meat is carcinogenic to humans. Hence the consumption of processed meat should be reduced to a minimum and only eaten occasionally.”
Most people share a strange love and hate relationship with bacon, thanks to the deliciously salty flavor and the enormous fat content. The taste and crunchiness are to die for but the amount of workout it takes to get rid of all that fat, well, it makes you think twice before indulging in bacon again. But the world of nutrition is now done contemplating over the fat content of bacon. Instead, it is now focused on finding out whether bacon poses other health threats or not. For that, it is extremely important to know how bacon is prepared.
How is bacon obtained?
Okay everyone knows that bacon is obtained from pork. It then goes through a curing process where the meat is soaked in salt, nitrates and sugar. After this, bacon is smoked. The process of soaking bacon is known as curing. This procedure allows one to store the meat and preserve it. It also helps the meat retain its original color for a longer period of time. Soaking and smoking also adds to the distinct flavor of bacon.
Bacon is a processed meat which is processed by different manufacturers in a different way. Processed meat be it sausage or bacon, it is not beneficial for your health.
Here are 4 important negative effects of bacon you must be aware of:
1. The effect of fat content
Bacon has a very high fat content. 50% of bacon is monounsaturated fats, 40% is saturated fat and the rest is polyunsaturated fat. Such high saturated fat content makes bacon a serious health hazard for people if consumed way too much at a time, for a long period of time. It could result in obesity and may land you in heart disease in future. The effect of this high fat content depends on other lifestyle factors of a person. If you exercise regularly and enjoy bacon once in a while, it may not have that negative an effect on your health.
2. Nitrates and nitrites
When bacon goes through curing, it is soak in nitrates as well. It does contribute to the freshness of the meat and its flavor but it does not do well to your health. These nitrates, when cooked on a high-flame, can result in the formation of compounds known as carcinogens. These carcinogens can have serious negative effects on overall health of a person. Scientists, in the past, have linked these substances to an increased risk of cancer.
Bacon is soaked in nitrates when it is cured which is unhealthy.
3. The effect of too much salt
Eating too much bacon can be harmful for health due to its high salt content. When bacon goes through curing, it is soaked in salt, nitrates and sometimes even sugar. This is one of the reasons why bacon has such a high salt content. High salt consumption is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and sometimes even stomach cancer. It might not necessarily give you a heart disease at a later stage in life, but it can be a serious risk factor for the same.
Bacon can be harmful for health due to its high salt content
4. The effect of other harmful compounds
While cooking processed meats like bacon, over-cooking and undercooking is a possibility. These two can result in the production of serious, harmful compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines which are linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.