Last Updated on by Eat Better Move More
Can I Eat Bacon While Pregnant?
Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life, characterized by many changes in the body including hormonal, metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, behavioral, and even psychological.
However, the most remarkable one for a woman’s body is the belly growing as the baby develops, which lasts for around 40 weeks.
Besides body changes, pregnancy is also marked as a period with great uncertainties, especially for first-time moms. It is normal to wonder about what to eat, what to avoid, and many other questions that are based on the premise of protecting the developing baby.
If that was not enough, it is common for the pregnant woman to have special food cravings during this period. For instance, have you asked yourself “Can I eat bacon while pregnant?” Keep on reading to discover the answer to this intriguing question and to understand if it is safe or not to eat bacon when pregnant.
Bacon During Pregnancy
Bacon is a very versatile food that goes well at any time of the day, either for a breakfast or as a topping on a sandwich, the truth is that a large number of people consume it on a daily basis. Now, what about a pregnant woman?
Can they eat bacon? Yes, they can! However, it is worth mentioning that there are some risks related to eating bacon while pregnant and there are some measures you can take to prevent them.
Bacon is predominantly made from the pork belly of young pigs. It can also contain other pork cuts, if that is the case you will probably see them specified in the product’s packaging.
In addition, unless specified in the package, bacon is raw and therefore must be cooked in order to be consumed. As with any other type of raw meat, if you are pregnant, extra cautions should be exercised.
Eating raw or uncooked bacon might significantly increase the risk of foodborne diseases such as trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, and tapeworms.
According to doctors and dietitians, the meat is ready to be eaten when it reaches an internal temperature of 75°C or 165°F. Also, it is important to have separate cut boards and wash your hands and any other kitchen utensils that touched the raw bacon to avoid cross-contamination.
Nitrates in Pregnancy – Can I Eat Bacon While Pregnant
The other major concern regarding eating bacon while pregnant is related to its nitrate content. Nitrates and nitrites are vastly used by the food industry to preserve and extend the life of meat products as well as to enhance their red-ish color.
Nitrates and nitrites can either occur naturally in the body or be ingested through foods, especially processed meat products such as bacon.
Nitrates are a relatively stable compound and thus are unlikely to change into other compounds in our body.
However, nitrites, which are the most frequently used additives, can combine with other compounds and convert into nitrosamines when exposed to high temperatures, which is what occurs when cooking the bacon.
Nitrosamines can be harmful to our body, especially for pregnant woman, in one study that took place in the United States, scientists examined the relationship between dietary nitrate intake and preterm births, results have shown that prenatal exposure to this compound has increased the risk of preterm birth in the first, second, and third trimester of pregnancy.
Furthermore, some studies have associated nitrosamines with several types of cancer including gastric and esophageal, and can be toxic if consumed in a large amounts. Therefore, consuming nitrites in high amounts might be a potential hazard for the fetus and the mother.
Bacon is usually made from high fat pork cuts, such as the belly. According to the USDA database, in a 26 grams portion of bacon, which is equivalent to three strips, there are 10.9 grams of fat, in which 3.6 grams come from saturated fat.
Fat is an extremely important nutrient during pregnancy, for instance, cholesterol is vital for the development of the baby as it is needed for the production of sex hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen as well as helping in brain development.
However, consuming fat – especially saturated – in excess might bring some cardiovascular problems, and that is especially relevant if the pregnant woman suffers from high blood pressure or possesses a high cholesterol level.
That being said, you should prefer unsaturated fatty acids, some of the diet sources include avocado, vegetable oils, olives, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds over saturated fatty acids sources such as butter, fatty meat, and processed meat (bacon).
Uncured Bacon While Pregnant
In a few words, uncured bacon is basically the manufactured bacon that does not have nitrites in its list of ingredients. Its package label should read “uncured bacon – no nitrates added”.
As this type of bacon does not have nitrates as preservatives it should be stored in the refrigerator with a temperature below 4°C or 40°F.
However, this does not mean that uncured bacon does not have any nitrite at all, as nitrites can come from naturally occurring sources such as celery, which might be used to add flavors.
Therefore, the same caution should be exercised, cook it at the right temperature, and limit the amount consumed.
Bacon Alternatives for Pregnant Woman
If you are pregnant and craving for eating bacon but would prefer a healthier alternative, consider soy or mushroom bacon.
It might sound odd, however, these veggie bacon alternatives are high in protein and fiber, yet low in fat and cholesterol. Why not give them a chance?
Can I Eat Bacon While Pregnant Conclusion
Bacon is a popular food worldwide, it brings a typical smoky flavor to several dishes and if that was not enough, bacon can be consumed any time of the day from breakfast to dinner.
When it comes to food, bacon is highly debated, either if it is ok to eat it or not. However, can I eat bacon while pregnant? The short answer is yes you can, with a few caveats though.
Firstly, it is important to eat bacon while hot and well cooked, its temperature should reach 75°C or 165°F to avoid any type of foodborne illness.
Secondly, you should limit its consumption in order to avoid over intake of fat and nitrites, which might be harmful if consumed in greater quantities.