This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.
Can You Eat Bacon While Pregnant? Is It Safe To Consume 2023?
We all know how food cravings can be a thing during certain stages of pregnancy. There are many different carvings and appetites that pregnant women experience. One thing to remember is that not all women are the same, especially during pregnancy when women tend to have different cravings. Despite the naturalness of cravings, it is essential to remember that eating habits impact your health and your unborn child.
Therefore, we recommend that pregnant women follow healthy and balanced eating habits. This does not mean you cannot indulge in a tasty treat just because you are pregnant. On the contrary, it means that you should always practice moderation and eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Let us first answer the question, “Can pregnant women eat bacon?”
Can I Eat Bacon While Pregnant?
Certainly, bacon may be a delicious addition to a pregnant woman’s diet. Nevertheless, before consuming the meat, be sure it is fully cooked.
The meat is cured with additives, spices, salt, nitrites, and occasionally even sugar to provide bacon with its distinct flavor. As a result, consuming too much of it can be harmful, especially for women who have or are at risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
One primary concern with bacon or pork is the bacteria listeria. Listeria bacteria are found in bacon and most uncooked meat in general. This bacterium can promote listeriosis, an infection that crosses the placenta to create significant complications for the unborn child. Fortunately, listeria should not be a concern if the meat is cooked correctly — therefore, bacon is typically safe to consume as long as it’s well-cooked. And again, in moderation.
So, even though thick, succulent bacon may be your preference, crispy bacon is a better option — a chewy chunk may contain undercooked sections, which might be harmful.
Risks Of Eating Bacon While Pregnant
While eating bacon is generally considered safe, it is essential to note that limiting your bacon pregnancy consumption to only reasonable levels is recommended. Additionally, some risks are associated with consuming cured and uncured bacon. Some of these risks are outlined below:
Bacon, like lamb and beef, is a category of red meat. Both unsaturated and saturated fats are abundant in red meat. Although fat, particularly saturated fat, has had a lot of bad press in recent years, the most current research indicates that a reasonable quantity of saturated fat can be part of a well-rounded diet.
Whether one is expecting it or not, fat is a necessary nutrient. It aids in the absorption and use of critical nutrients such as vitamins. Furthermore, the body requires various types of fat from a healthy diet to nourish and nurture your unborn baby. For example, the research found that enough saturated fat consumption is associated with higher infant birth weight, lowering the likelihood of babies being delivered underweight for their gestational age.
Alternatively, too much-saturated fat can lead to excessive birth weight and pregnancy complications. Even though red meat contains higher saturated fat content than unsaturated fat, there are plant foods that contain significant levels of saturated fat, e.g., seeds and nuts. The distinction is that pork and other varieties of red meat have more substantial quantities of both types of fat but without plentiful plant micronutrients.
Nitrites And Nitrates In Bacon
Bacon is a type of processed food. This type of pork is treated or preserved by adding artificial preservatives and chemicals known as nitrites and nitrates. This same chemical mixture gives bacon its brilliant red hue — otherwise, it might naturally appear brown if they were not present.
According to this medical study, an accumulation of nitrite and nitrates in the body during gestation — from either nitrosatable medicines or food nitrates— is connected to an increased risk of premature birth. Premature birth can result in health problems for the baby.
Pregnant women are advised to keep the number of processed meats — i.e., sausages like the Oscar Mayer ones, smoked fish, bacon, ham, or others — in check. This is true for all other people, male, and female.
Pathogens — bacteria — are commonly found in raw meat. Poor handling or preparation of any meat product can result in contamination issues, leading to food poisoning and many other illnesses associated with severe nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.
The chances of contamination become even more likely once you are pregnant since your immune response will not be as robust. Furthermore, specific pathogens, e.g., Listeria, can enter the womb and threaten your baby’s life.
The most common pathogens in processed meats, including bacon, include Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Toxoplasmosis gondii.
When these germs are present in the meat you consume, the resulting infections can lead to the following problems for pregnant women:
- Premature delivery.
- Infection transferring to the newborn.
Even though some germs can survive in the fridge, they are destroyed best by adequate cooking. Whether you’re expecting it or not, it’s critical to ensure your bacon is adequately cooked to avoid eating contaminated meat.
This research indicated that excessive amounts of linoleic acid — an unsaturated fat in plant oils, including soybean and canola oil, that is high in omega-6 fatty acids — are hazardous during pregnancy. Additionally, it could make kids more likely to have behavioral issues in the future.
How To Cook Bacon Properly?
How To Purchase Bacon
To satisfy your pregnancy bacon craving, you must purchase raw bacon. The brand is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing bacon. Ensure you buy bacon from a reputable brand known for sustainably sourcing their meats.
Furthermore, please look at the list of ingredients for any artificial flavoring, preservatives, and allergens. While you can’t avoid preservatives in most bacon products, you must realize that the components should include the bare minimum and not too many unnecessary chemicals.
You may also purchase mushroom or soy bacon products if you want healthier alternatives. Finally, always check the expiration date of any product you are buying.
How To Store Bacon
After purchasing your bacon, you should immediately take it home and store it in your refrigerator. The optimal temperature for refrigerating bacon is about 40 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, you keep the bacon in your fridge while it is still in its packaging.
However, we advise you to practice caution when storing your bacon. You must avoid cross-contamination with other foods, such as veggies and fruits. This is because even though it is in a refrigerator, it might contain some pathogens which can be transferred to other food items; even though you’re safe with the well-cooked bacon, you may be in danger from produce you eat raw but which was contaminated.
How To Cook Bacon
When cooking using a pan, make sure to sear the fatty ends of the bacon until they are crispy if you are frying it. The sides of bacon can often rest on a pan’s edge, which doesn’t become quite as hot, and this will keep the bacon from thoroughly frying.
There are various ways of cooking bacon. Some cooking methods are in a microwave, oven, grill, skillet, or pan on the stove. Serve bacon that has been cooked to a temperature of 73.8 degrees C. Because it is hard to gauge the temperature of a tiny slice of bacon, the crispier it is, the better.
Bacterial toxins should have been destroyed when the cured bacon is crispy. The thickness of your bacon and the temperature of the heat will affect how long it takes to cook the bacon to a crispy state. Please wait until the meat is thoroughly cooked and crisp before sampling it.
Alternatives To Bacon During Pregnancy
Some pregnant women crave the smoky flavor of juicy bacon. While you can eat bacon crumbs or smoked pork safely, you might sometimes want an alternative to keep your consumption in check.
Not all bacon is the same, and there are many alternatives. One of the most common bacon alternatives is turkey bacon. What makes turkey bacon a popular option is that it contains fewer calories and fat than pork bacon. Despite this, it is also a processed food item. Other options are Canadian bacon, chicken bacon, bacon bits, flavored bacon, hickory smoked slices, Hormel bacon bits, etc.
Textured soy-based bacon slices can be an excellent option for those looking for a much healthier alternative. The option is vegan-friendly and can be consumed whole or processed. One of the best things about soy-based bacon is that anyone can easily make their own by soaking tofu or tempeh strips in spices before baking or frying them.
Another option is mushroom bacon — yes, that’s right. You can use baby Bellas, oysters, shitake, cremini, and portabella mushrooms — or any other type of mushroom you prefer. To make this bacon substitute, one must marinate the mushroom before roasting and then smoking it. After the process, it will look and tastes the same as regular bacon.
The Bottom Line
Bacon bits are safe to eat when expecting. Avoid cold bacon or consuming uncooked bacon. Ensure you fry it properly until it sizzles hot. Avoid bacon from cafes and restaurants since you never know how it will be made.
If you wish to eliminate all dangers, there are substitutes for bacon not made from processed meat, such as mushroom and soy bacon. While pregnant, moderation is the key to eating anything, including bacon.
No one should consume too much bacon. However, there is no reason you can’t sometimes savor a plate of perfectly cooked bacon when pregnant.
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