Bacon has long had a bad reputation when it comes to nutritional value, so you might be tempted to turn to turkey bacon, which is chopped turkey that has been smoked and reconstituted into bacon strips, as a more healthful alternative. However, you should think twice before making it a regular part of your diet. Turkey bacon has many of the same beneficial nutrients as regular bacon, but it also has many of the same nutritional disadvantages.
Calories and Macronutrients
Turkey bacon has slightly fewer calories and less fat than regular bacon. A 2-ounce portion of cooked pork bacon contains 268 calories, while an equivalent serving of cooked turkey bacon has 218 calories. They both have beneficial protein -- 20 grams per serving of pork bacon, or 17 grams for turkey bacon -- which supports hormone production and helps you maintain or repair healthy tissue. Both types of bacon also come packed with fat. A 2-ounce portion of pork bacon contains 20 grams of total fat, while an equivalent serving of turkey bacon contains 16 grams of fat.
Pork bacon serves as a slightly better source of B-complex vitamins. It provides 22 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-1, 30 percent of the DV for vitamin B-3, 16 percent of the DV for vitamin B-6 and 11 percent of the DV for vitamin B-12. Turkey bacon, on the other hand, provides a significant amount of only vitamin B-3 -- 10 percent of the daily value. The B-complex vitamins in bacon play a role in your metabolism and help your body derive energy from food. Vitamin B-6 also helps you make insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar, and vitamin B-12 helps you make DNA. The vitamin B-3 found in both turkey and pork bacon nourishes your skin and maintains healthy nerves.
Turkey bacon and pork bacon contain roughly comparable amounts of zinc, but regular bacon offers much more selenium. Your body uses zinc to control gene activity and to activate hundreds of enzymes, which are proteins your cells use to perform chemical reactions, including ones needed for your metabolism. Both types of bacon contain approximately 1.75 milligrams of zinc per serving, which provides 16 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 22 percent for women. Selenium activates proteins linked to cancer prevention as well as to healthy muscle function. A serving of pork bacon contains 27.6 micrograms of selenium, which is 50 percent of the recommended daily intake, while an equivalent serving of turkey bacon offers just 14.7 micrograms.
Saturated Fat and Sodium
While turkey bacon contains slightly less saturated fat than regular bacon -- 4.7 grams per serving, compared to 7 grams -- it's still high in saturated fat. This type of fat negatively affects your blood cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease, so you should limit your intake. Turkey bacon also comes packed with heart-damaging sodium. Each serving contains 1,302 milligrams of sodium, which is 87 percent of your recommended daily limit, and significantly more than the 979 milligrams of sodium found in regular bacon. In addition to increasing your risk of heart disease, a high-sodium diet can increase your risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute: Selenium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Zinc
- Linus Pauling Institute: Sodium (Chloride)