Bacon is all the rage these days. It’s almost…overexposed. Luckily there are still ways to have fun with the subject (other than eating it, of course).
Now, being a big bacon fan myself (we actually wrapped our Thanksgiving turkey in bacon last year), I wondered: what could I possibly add to people’s enjoyment of this savory treat? I know, I could try and convince you it’s healthy!
Searching my new Kindle version of GCBC confirms the contention of the hardcover index that, not counting a whole bunch of references to Francis Bacon, there’s only one real discussion of bacon in the book. It goes a little something like this:
The observation that monounsaturated fats both lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL also came with an ironic twist: the principal fat in red meat, eggs, and bacon is not saturated fat, but the very same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil. The implications are almost impossible to believe after three decades of public-health recommendations suggesting that any red meat consumed should at least be lean, with any excess fat removed. …. All of this suggests that eating a porterhouse steak in lieu of bread or potatoes would actually reduce heart-disease risk, although virtually no nutritional authority will say so publicly. The same is true for lard and bacon. [GCBC, Ch. 9, pp. 168-9]
So given a chance between “turkey bacon”:
…and actual turkey wrapped in actual bacon:
…why not go for the real yummy thing?
Doesn’t fat change when cooked, and in different ways at different temperatures? I wouldn’t draw the conclusion that lard or ghee are necessarily the same as milk or beef fat.
A doctor told me to approach it like this: if the fat is solid at body temperature outside your body, it will probably be solid at body temperature inside your body.
I am sure it is grotesquely unscientific, but it is an interesting yardstick.
Hi Rick! Yes, various byproducts get created when you cook anything, and some are no doubt better or worse for you than others. (But you don’t drink olive oil straight either; sometimes you use it for cooking too, so to the extent that we’re talking about the same kind of fatty acid here, it’s apples to apples. Mmm, apples and bacon…)
It sounds like your doctor’s notion is indeed incredibly unscientific. :-) The passage I quoted above was in the context of discussing a scientific study by Scott Grundy in the mid-80’s that actually tried to sort out what parts of the so-called Mediterranean diet actually do increase heart health. I will save this longer Mediterranean discussion for another post, but for now, I’ll just say that Taubes’s conclusion seems fair based on the results of Grundy’s study, which had the now-familiar conclusion that monounsaturated fats avoid the heart-health downsides of saturated fats and of carbs.
As always, if you have an urge to assess the logic and the science of this stuff yourself, I strongly encourage you to read GCBC and even the primary sources he cites.
Is Scott Kveton underwriting this post?
Hah! I’m reading GCBC on my Sony 700. The boys, however, will gladly take a beggin’ strip or a bacon strip, or hey… is that a tennis ball soaked in bacon fat?
(How else was I going to train Woofie to hit the flyball box?)
Just came across an article in Slate about the resurgence of lard (now there’s a good name for a band): Lard: After decades of trying, its moment is finally here.