Can Pregnant Women Eat Bacon? Things You Should Know

Bacon During Pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Bacon is the processed meat of pig and sometimes that of a turkey. The meat is cured and seasoned with salt and other condiments to enhance its taste. But, can you have it during pregnancy?

MomJunction explains the benefits and risks of having bacon during pregnancy, and its preparation method, and shares some delicious recipes too.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Bacon?

Yes, bacon can be a tasty addition to the pregnancy diet. However, make sure that you properly cook the meat before consumption.

Bacon is cured with salt, spices, nitrites, additives, and sometimes even sugar to give it a unique taste. Therefore, eating it in excess can be a bad idea.

Before adding bacon to your diet, know about the nutrition it offers.

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Nutritional Value Of Bacon

The nutritional value of cooked pork bacon, per 100g of serving (1):

Total fat99.50g
Saturated fat31.991g
Vitamin B30.725mg
Vitamin A37IU
Vitamin B60.005mg
Vitamin B120.09mcg
Choline6.5mg (2)
Selenium5.7mcg (3)

mcg=micrograms; g=grams; mg=milligrams; IU= International unit

Given the nutrients it contains, bacon provides certain health benefits to a pregnant woman.

[ Read: Is Meat Safe During Pregnancy ]

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Health Benefits Of Bacon During Pregnancy

Here are some benefits of eating bacon while pregnant:

  1. Brain power: Bacon is a good source of choline, which is essential for brain development in the growing baby (4). It also helps in improving memory.
  1. Feel full: Bacon is rich in saturated fat and thus makes you feel full even if you eat less. It is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, which helps in maintaining the weight of obese women during pregnancy.
  1. High in protein: It is an excellent source of protein that is vital for fetal development. Protein is necessary for healthy bones, skin, hair, and muscle development. It offers all the amino acids essential for the body (5).
  1. Antioxidant: Bacon is a good source of selenium, which is an antioxidant that helps fight diseases and promotes thyroid development in the baby (6).
  1. Source of phosphorus: Phosphorus is crucial for the development of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and DNA (7), both of which are essential for fetal development.
  1. Vitamin B: Bacon is a good source of vitamin B, which is essential for the development of the nervous system in the fetus (8).

You can enjoy these benefits when you consume bacon in moderation.

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How Often Can You Eat Bacon When Pregnant?

Bacon is a good source of saturated fats and hence should be consumed in moderation, especially by women with a higher BMI.

According to the American Heart Association, the recommended intake of saturated fat per day is 13g if the person needs to get 2000 calories per day.

During pregnancy, the calorie intake increases from 2200 to 2900 calories/day (9). So if you are pregnant, your consumption of bacon should be limited to prevent excess consumption of saturated fats.

Bacon can be consumed cooked, or raw and cold, which may not be suitable for all.

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[ Read: Eating Turkey During Pregnancy ]

Can You Eat Cold Bacon While Pregnant?

No, ideally. If you are buying packaged cooked bacon, then refrigerate it at 40°F or below immediately after you take it home. When you open packaged bacon, it gets exposed to the surrounding environment that can introduce bacteria. Therefore, reheat the product for safe consumption. It will kill the bacteria if any.

Sometimes, bacon consumption can be risky even when taken in moderate quantities.

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What Are The Risks Of Eating Bacon During Pregnancy?

Here are some significant risks associated with the consumption of bacon during pregnancy:

  • Listeriosis: A common bacteria found in raw bacon, listeria can put a pregnant woman at the risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, or stillbirth. In babies, it could lead to infections and even cause lifelong disabilities such as paralysis, intellectual disability, or seizures (10). So always cook the bacon properly before consumption.
  • Saturated fat: High levels of saturated fats can lead to an increase in the cholesterol levels (11). This increased fat deposition can constrict the blood vessels, leading to heart problems.
  • Preservatives: Nitrites are carcinogenic preservatives used for curing the bacon, and can be harmful to the mother and the baby (12).

Bacon should ideally be consumed fresh, or within a couple of days after the package is opened. If you intend to use only a small portion of packaged bacon, you need to store the remaining meat carefully.

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How To Store Bacon?

Packaged bacon can be safely used for seven days when refrigerated at a temperature of 40°F or below. It can be used for one month when kept in the freezer at 0°F. The sausage form of pork can stay for one to two days when refrigerated at 40°F and for 1 to 2 months in the freezer at 0°F (13).

Cooking bacon the right way can also reduce the risks to some extent. More about it next.

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How To Properly Cook Bacon To Avoid Listeria During Pregnancy?

Here is how you should cook bacon for safe consumption.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the meat.
  • Cook the bacon over a stove instead of a microwave oven to kill the bacteria completely. Cook till it becomes red and crispy.
  • Always reheat the leftover bacon at 165°F.
  • Always keep the uncooked bacon separate from other meats and vegetables.

If you have handled or consumed raw bacon and suspect a bacterial infection, look out for the symptoms and visit a doctor.

[ Read: Hot Dogs During Pregnancy ]

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Symptoms Of Listeria To Look For If You Had Raw Bacon

Bacon should never be consumed raw. But if you have had it, look for the following symptoms (14):

  • Fatigue
  • Uneasiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches

Severe infection could cause a stiff neck, loss of balance, convulsions, or headaches. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Bacon comes from the meat of different animals. You can pick one based on your preferences.

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Bacon Alternatives During Pregnancy

If you do not want to consume pork, you can try these substitutes that come close to fulfilling your cravings for bacon. Here is the list you can choose from:

Turkey bacon: Its rich taste makes it a common alternative to bacon (pork). Turkey bacon is low in cholesterol and fat but is not as crunchy as pork bacon.

  • Chicken bacon: It is low in fat and has less sodium compared to other varieties. This is ideal for a low salt diet with more protein and fewer calories.
  • Lamb bacon: It has more or less the same amount of fat as pork bacon but may not be as crispy.
  • Vegetarian bacon: This is for people who do not eat meat. Vegetable bacon is also called Vacon or Fakon. It is made of either tempeh or tofu. Moreover, it is less in fat and high in proteins and dietary fibers.

Next, we look at a few easy-to-make bacon recipes for pregnant women.

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Pregnancy-friendly Bacon Recipes

Here are some bacon recipes you can prepare at home:

1. Spinach and bacon pasta

Spinach and bacon pasta

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 5 strips turkey bacon, cooked
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped Spinach
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 250gm whole wheat spaghetti (cooked and drained)
  • 1 cup reduced sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 2/3 cups smoked cheese, grated
  • Ground pepper

How to prepare:

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Put the minced garlic and saute for one minute.
  3. Add spinach and saute for a couple of more minutes.
  4. Add the broth and cook till it disappears, and then add the spaghetti.
  5. Let the noodles cook for one minute on a low flame and season it with pepper, cheese and bacon crumbs.
  6. Serve hot.

[ Read: Deli Meats During Pregnancy ]

2. Broccoli salad with bacon

Broccoli salad with bacon

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • 1tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 4 cups finely chopped broccoli crowns
  • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 slices (¼ cup) cooked bacon, chopped
  • 3tbsp toasted sunflower seeds

How to prepare:

  1. Take a large bowl and whisk the vinegar, mustard, sugar, garlic, mayonnaise, pepper, and sugar.
  2. Add the finely chopped vegetables and the bacon along with the sunflower seeds.
  3. Mix all the ingredients until they are well coated.
  4. Refrigerate it for up to 1 day and consume.

Keep reading to know the answers to some commonly asked questions about bacon consumption during pregnancy.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How to choose the right bacon?

While choosing pork bacon, look for slices with long veins of lean pink meat and low-fat content. Also, check the package for the expiration date (15).

2. Is Canadian bacon safe to eat during pregnancy?

Yes, provided it is well cooked. Canadian Bacon is pork loin, which is the meat cut from the back side of the pork. This bacon is high in fat content and should be thoroughly cooked and taken in moderation during pregnancy.

3. Is uncured bacon safe during pregnancy?

Cured bacon is generally processed meat with salt and sodium nitrite, which is an additive. However, uncured bacon is bacon cured with natural sources of sodium nitrite such as celery, parsley and beetroot extracts for flavoring. While added nitrites are not good for health, natural sources of nitrates do not put you at risk. Also, vegetables are a good source of vitamin C, which prevents the conversion of nitrites into hazardous compounds called nitrosamines.

4. Does craving bacon during pregnancy say something about the baby’s gender?

According to old wives tales, craving for salty and spicy food during pregnancy indicates that you are carrying a boy. Bacon is generally salty and spicy, so if you are craving for bacon, then it may indicate you’re having a boy. However, there is no scientific evidence backing these claims.

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Like most other meats and foods, bacon should be consumed in moderation during pregnancy. As far as possible, choose preservative-free and thoroughly cooked bacon to prevent the risk of pregnancy. If you still have doubts, talk to your doctor or nutritionist.

[ Read: Eating Sausage During Pregnancy ]

Did you crave for bacon in pregnancy? Tell us about your favorite bacon dish and share your experiences in our comments section below.

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shreeja pillai

Postgraduate in Chemistry and content writer. She has worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company and also holds a diploma in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. She is a writer for MomJunction and aims at providing informative articles based on health and wellness. Apart from writing, she takes a great interest in music and traveling.
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