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Can Bacon Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Here's healthier bacon recipes and tips for bacon lovers.

Want Bacon or Sausage With That?

OK, so the news about bacon is not all bad. Some restaurant breakfast entrees come with a side of bacon or sausage. And believe it or not, it’s usually best to choose bacon. Although both meats are high in fat and saturated fat, two links of sausage will cost you a bit more in calories and fat than three strips of bacon. Call it the lesser of two evils:

  • 2 pork sausage breakfast links (45 g) have 140 calories, 12 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7 grams protein, and 310 mg sodium.
  • 3 hickory smoked bacon strips, pan-fried (26 g) have 120 calories, 9 grams fat, 3.8 grams saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7.5 grams protein, and 435 mg sodium.

Bacon: One Ounce is Enough

Probably the best news about bacon it’s that one ounce is usually enough to sideline your breakfast, round out your BLT sandwich, or top your baked potato.

Even with the highest-fat type of bacon, 1 ounce adds up to 140 calories (the same as one cup of low-fat milk or two small slices of whole wheat bread). Choose a slightly leaner type (such as Oscar Mayer Center Cut Smokehouse Thick Sliced), and 1 ounce adds up to 105 calories and 7.5 grams of fat.

In the mid-1990s, bacon didn’t even make the top 15 food sources for total fat among U.S. adults, although sausage was No. 12 and eggs were No. 14, according to USDA dietary data. Bacon didn’t make the list of top 15 food sources of saturated fat either, but sausage came in at No. 12 and eggs, No. 15.

Bacon Options (from highest to lowest in fat)

Per approximately 1 ounce

Fat (g)
Fat (g)Protein (g)
Hormel Center Cut, 4 slices140 1010

Hickory Smoked Bacon, 3 slices


Oscar Mayer Center Cut Naturally Smoked, 6 slices 

Farmer John Premium, 3 slices1057.54.59
Oscar Mayer Center Cut Smokehouse Thick Sliced,
3 slices
Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits1006212
Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon,
2 slices
LightLife Smart Bacon (veggie protein strips), 3 slices  60306
Jennie-O Extra Lean Turkey Bacon, 2 slices  4010



A note on cholesterol: The cholesterol per ounce in the pork options above range from 22 to 30 milligrams. The cholesterol per ounce in the turkey bacon options above range from 30 to 40 milligrams.

A note on sodium: The sodium per ounce in the pork options above range from 420 to 600 milligrams. The sodium per ounce in the turkey bacon options above range from 280 to 360 milligrams.

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