Is Turkey Bacon Really Healthier Than Regular Bacon?

There are two things that are well-known about bacon: It's phenomenally popular, and it's not very good for you. Of course, it's the popularity of the beloved pork cut that has caused people to try and find a way to either cook it in a way that spruces up its nutritional profile or come up with a healthier alternative. One such alternative is turkey bacon.

While a normal piece of bacon has about 54 calories, 4 grams of fat, 3.9 grams of protein, 194 milligrams of sodium, and 11 milligrams of cholesterol, turkey bacon has 30 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 130 milligrams of sodium, and 10 milligrams of cholesterol (via HuffPost). The amount of sodium in a slice of turkey bacon amounts to 5.4 percent of the recommended daily value, compared to regular bacon's 8 percent. In addition, the amount of cholesterol isn't far  off from that of regular bacon. Of course, this is just in one slice — and really, who only eats one slice of bacon?

Bacon, nitrates, and overeating

Technically, yes, by looking at the numbers, it appears that turkey bacon is healthier on all fronts than true bacon — however, it's still not objectively a healthy food. Some suggest also that given the perception of turkey bacon as "healthy," people might actually eat more of it than they would otherwise, which could cause them to actually take in more sodium and cholesterol than they would eat if they had traditional bacon as an option.

Turkey bacon, just like regular bacon, uses preservatives known as nitrates and nitrites to preserve the meats (via Healthline). High levels of synthetic nitrates have been linked to an increased risk of throat and stomach cancers.

So while nominally, turkey bacon is more healthy when it comes to the nutritional makeup, the fact that it includes nitrates and nitrites, just like traditional bacon, makes it an unhealthy choice. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, try treating it just like pork bacon, which should be consumed in moderation.