Bacon’s primary asset is its fat, and that fat— surprise! – is primarily monounsaturated. Fifty percent of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated, mostly consisting of oleic acid, the type so valued in olive oil. About three percent of that is palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturate with valuable antimicrobial properties. About 40 percent of bacon fat is saturated, a level that worries fat phobics, but is the reason why bacon fat is relatively stable and unlikely to go rancid under normal storage and cooking conditions. That’s important, given the fact that the remaining 10 percent is in the valuable but unstable form of polyunsaturates.7
Pork fat also contains a novel form of phosophatidyl choline that possesses antioxidant activity superior to Vitamin E. This may be one reason why lard and bacon fat are relatively stable and unprone to rancidity from free radicals.8
Bacon fat from pastured pigs also comes replete with fat-soluble vitamin D, provided it’s bacon from foraging pigs that romp outdoors in the sun for most of year. Factory-farmed pigs kept indoors and fed rations from soy, corn meal, casein, and other grains, are likely to show low levels of Vitamin D.
BRING HOME THE BACON
Then why do so many health experts condemn bacon and other cured meats because of their nitrite content? Well, why do fats and cholesterol still get a bum rap? The reason is bad studies and worse publicity, with the latest shoddy work out of Harvard a prime example. According to Dr. Bryan, the body of studies show only a “weak association” with evidence that is “inconclusive.” As he puts it, “This paradigm needs revisiting in the face of undisputed health benefits of nitrite- and nitrate-enriched diets.” 49
So what’s the last word on America’s favorite meat? Indulge bacon lust freely, know that the science is catching up, the media lags behind, and, as usual, our ancestors got it right.