Health Benefits of Bacon

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on September 05, 2023
4 min read

The term "bacon" refers to a specific cut of cured meat that comes from the belly of a hog usually between 6 and 7 months old.

Historians think even the ancient Greeks and Romans ate bacon. Today it's made all over the world and includes pork, turkey, beef, and even vegetarian options. 


Bacon has lots of sodium, cholesterol, and fat, all of which can increase your risk of heart disease. But bacon does have other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just keep in mind that if you eat bacon, it's best to do so occasionally and in small amounts. 

Salt supplement

A few people actually need more salt in their diets. Some athletes, for example, sweat so much they can have electrolyte imbalances and need a boost of salt to recharge their bodies. A high-sodium diet can also help people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) manage their symptoms. POTS causes a fast heartbeat and dizziness when you stand up.

A few pieces of bacon might work in place of a sports drink or salt tablets in these cases. 

Turning food into energy

B vitamins like those found in small amounts in bacon help your body process the foods you eat into energy. B vitamins also are important in forming red blood cells. But other, healthier foods have these vitamins too, including leafy greens, fish, and beans.

Brain health

Bacon has choline, a nutrient involved in controlling your mood, memory, and muscles, among other things. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as some nuts, beans, and seeds, are healthier choices to get choline. 

A serving size is equal to about 1 medium strip of bacon. That small serving will provide you with:

  • Calories: 43
  • Fat: 3.1 grams
  • Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
  • Protein: 3.6 grams
  • Sodium: 162 milligrams

Compared to other meats, bacon is relatively low in vitamins and minerals, but it does contain some of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12
  • Calcium
  • Choline
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Turkey bacon is cut and cured to be similar to pork bacon. The difference is that it's made from turkey meat, although sometimes pork is added.‌ If turkey bacon contains any pork, it must be listed on the package label.

Unlike pork bacon, turkey bacon isn’t sliced directly from the turkey into pieces. Instead, the meat is chopped, formed, and then sliced. 

Turkey bacon isn't necessarily healthier than pork bacon. The nutritional values are very similar.

A microwaved slice of pork or turkey bacon contains almost the same amount of protein. Pork bacon has about 3.6 grams of protein while turkey bacon has 2.4 grams. 

Turkey bacon has fewer calories, with 30 calories per thin slice, compared to pork bacon, which has about 43 calories per slice. It's lower in fat, too, – 2.1 grams per slice, compared to pork bacon's 3.1 grams per slice.

Turkey and pork bacon use salt as a preservative. One slice of each has around 163 milligrams of sodium.

When shopping for and preparing either pork or turkey bacon, consider:

  • Choosing reduced-sodium options
  • Cooking without added salt or fats 
  • Blotting with paper towels to remove excess grease

There are several ways to cook bacon, including on the stovetop, in the oven, microwave, and even air fryer. Here's how.

On the stovetop

  • Use a nonstick skillet and cook the bacon slowly on medium heat. 
  • Don't add oil; the bacon will release its natural fats while it cooks.
  • Turn the slices regularly so they don't burn.
  • Remove the bacon and let it cool on paper towels to absorb the excess grease.

In the oven or air fryer

  • Place a metal baking rack in a sheet pan covered with foil.
  • Add your strips of bacon to the baking rack. 
  • Cook it at 400 F for 10-20 minutes, depending on the bacon's thickness. 
  • The grease will drip below the bacon to the sheet pan while it cooks.

In the microwave

  • Place a few strips of bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Cover it with paper towels. 
  • Cook on high for about 4 minutes, checking about halfway through. 
  • Continue to cook until the bacon is crispy.

Bacon ideas

Adding a little bit of bacon to vegetables and other nutritious foods can help you get the flavor with less of the salt and fat. 

Try these ideas for bacon:

  • Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich
  • Kale, bacon, and roasted butternut squash salad
  • Hot spinach salad with apples and bacon
  • Brussels sprouts roasted with garlic and bacon