I’m frequently asked what I eat for breakfast. I’m going to be completely transparent here and I promise it’s going to shock you.
My favorite breakfast food is……bacon.
You might be asking: How can Dr. Jonny eat — let alone, advocate —a food that has been the poster child for everything that's wrong with the western diet?
Well, I’ll tell you — and hopefully counter some of the bad press that has surrounded this much maligned and slandered food for decades.
It all comes down to cholesterol. Bacon has two strikes against it: one, that it’s an animal food; and two, that it’s high in saturated fat — which you’ve been told to avoid because it raises cholesterol.
But if cholesterol turns out to be just as much a threat as Y2K turned out to be — which is to say none at all — then all the prohibitions against saturated fat and animal products collapse like a house of cards.
And that's starting to happen.
Actually, the dietary dogma that damned saturated fat and cholesterol while exalting “complex” carbohydrates that make blood sugar spike (and with it obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) is finally starting to be seen as a highly flawed.
Let’s not mourn it. That low-fat philosophy made us sick, fat, tired, and depressed. It’s probably also partly responsible for the fact that our children now have a lower life expectancies.
But back to bacon.
Bacon is a great mix of protein and fat. Two slices of commercial bacon have 6 grams of fat — great for energy, balancing hormones, and satiety—and 4 grams of protein, all in a measly 70 calories.
Contrary to the popular misconception, only one-third of the fat in bacon (2 grams) is saturated.
And even if it was saturated fat — which it’s not — who cares? Saturated fat does not and never did cause heart disease, a fact roundly demonstrated in two major meta-analyses in the last five years — including one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There is, however, the issue of nitrates.
But the number one source of nitrates is vegetables. If nitrates were a reason for alarm, spinach would be far more dangerous to eat than bacon.
So the problem is not nitrates themselves. The problem is that when nitrates are combined with amino acids (the building blocks of protein, plentiful in bacon) and those amino acids are heated to high temperatures, they form nitrosamines — which are, in fact, carcinogenic.
The solution is simple. Buy only nitrate-free pasteurized bacon (organically raised and by definition free of added hormones, steroids, and antibiotics) and cook it at reasonably low temperatures. I cook mine in the microwave for five minutes and it comes out delicious.
Do that, and bacon qualifies as a breakfast of champions.
Posts by Jonny Bowden, PhD
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