Bacon is much-loved yet maligned by most… under false pretenses!
- High in saturated fat? Yeah, but who cares because saturated fat from natural sources is good for you!
- Spikes cholesterol and clogs arteries? Wrong. Dietary cholesterol from clean sources does not affect blood cholesterol… and furthermore, cholesterol does not cause heart attacks.
- Dripping with nitrates which can cause cancer… thanks to this recent article by Chris Kresser, the appropriate response is “big whoop!”
Nitrates/nitrates are used in the curing process. They are not going to kill you:
- Study that first claimed nitrates increased cancer risk was subjected to a peer review and discredited
- Extensive reviews of the scientific literature resulted in a thumbs up for nitrates/nitrites- yes, they not only do not seem to cause harm… they may just be beneficial to health!
- Most nitrate/nitrite to which we are exposed comes from our own bodies: “salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure”
- As far as food goes, 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables
- “…one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them!”
- So-called nitrate/nitrite-free foods still contain the chemicals, they just use natural sources like celery/beet juice/sea salt.
- Nitrate/nitrite do not accumulate in body.
- When ingested from food, nitrate turns into nitrite (after contacting saliva). 25% of nitrite is converted into salivary nitrite, 20% converted into nitrite, and the rest is excreted in the urine within 5 hours of ingestion. If absorbed, nitrite disappears from our blood in under five minutes.
- “Some nitrite in our stomach reacts with gastric contents, forming nitric oxide which may have many beneficial effects.”
- May be health-promoting
- Nitric oxide, formed when nitrite contacts stomach contents may improve blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk.
- Nitrates may help boost the immune system and protect against pathogenic bacteria.
- Curing pork products eliminates risk of infection with the nasty trichinosis parasite (similar to tape wom!)
Sad that this news should come alongside headlines warning of a coming “bacon shortage“, aka Aporkalypse. Apparently many pigs are fed corn (neither their natural nor preferred food) and corn prices are very high because of drought. But don’t fret: apparently experts say “reports of world-wide pork shortages in 2013 are a load of bull“.
Recipe to celebrate:
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites
- 8 chicken tenders from a good source, flattened and cut in two
- 3-ounce package softened full-fat cream cheese
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 8 slices bacon from a good source, cut in half
- Dab 1/2 teaspoon (more or less) of cream cheese on top of each chicken tender. Sprinkle a scant 1/4 teaspoon of peppers over cream cheese. Fold or roll chicken to enclose cream cheese mixture. Wrap each roll with one piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
- Grill until bacon is brown and crispy on both sides.
Be sure to wear plastic gloves when handling fresh jalapenos. The oil will attach itself to your hands and is not easily washed away. An inadvertent swipe of the hand close to your eyes could be an unforgettable experience.
For reference, if you are substituting for the chicken tenders (i.e. dark meat, large pieces of chicken breast, game meat), the size of the tenders I used were 5-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide before flattening and cutting in half.
Try flattening meat inside a zip-lock bag as pictured above. No flying pieces, no contamination on your cutting board from the chicken, and cleanup is super easy.