Bacon is among the staple breakfast ingredients in many countries due to its delectable and savory taste. However, people with diabetes have a lot of food restrictions, and you may wonder if bacon is among them or if a person with diabetes can eat bacon.
The quick answer is yes, a diabetic patient can eat bacon once in a while. However, it should never be a part of a regular diet due to its high sodium and saturated fat content.
Diabetes patients have a higher risk of developing heart disease, and eating foods high in sodium and saturated fat worsens their health. Instead, diabetic patients should choose healthier protein sources such as beans, nuts, and lean meat products.
Read on as I discuss the benefits and risks of eating bacon, its effects on one’s blood glucose levels, and provide a list of protein sources to have and to avoid.
Table of Contents
- Diabetes in a Nutshell
- Can A Diabetic Eat Bacon?
- Is Bacon Good for Diabetics?
- Does Bacon Increase Blood Sugar Levels?
- Does Bacon Lower Blood Sugar Levels?
- Benefits of Eating Bacon for Diabetics
- Risks of Eating Bacon for Diabetics
- Meat Products Recommended for Diabetics
- Meat Products Diabetics Should Avoid
- What Kind Of Bacon Can A Diabetic Eat?
- Best Diabetes-Friendly Bacon Recipes
- Related Questions
Diabetes in a Nutshell
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body either does not have enough insulin or does not use it properly. Insulin is one of the primary hormones that control your body’s sugar levels.
With diabetes, your body does not respond to insulin or does not have enough of it, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Your body becomes susceptible to health complications with consistently high blood glucose levels.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes - Juvenile diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is where the body’s immune system attacks the cells that create insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes - Diabetes Mellitus, also known as adult-onset diabetes, where the cells develop insulin resistance.
- Gestational Diabetes Mellitus - Appears during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and often goes away after delivery.
Although diabetes may not seem like a threat to society, it has no known cure, and 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, and the data keeps growing daily.
However, diabetes symptoms are highly manageable, especially with healthy eating and exercise.
Can A Diabetic Eat Bacon?
The quick answer to this question is yes. People with diabetes can eat pork bacon, as it does not increase blood sugar levels or cause a blood sugar spike. Bacon has no glycemic index because it does not contain carbohydrates.
However, eating bacon more often is unsuitable for anyone, including those who do not have diabetes. So to put it simply, people with diabetes CAN eat pork bacon, but it is not the healthiest way to boost your protein levels.
Is Bacon Good for Diabetics?
While bacon does have a few benefits for people with diabetes, and they can have it once in a while, it is not a good protein source as it is a processed meat high in saturated fat and sodium, which may have long-term adverse effects.
Diabetes patients already have a higher risk of developing heart diseases, and eating foods high in saturated fat makes the situation worse.
Sodium also results in high blood pressure, increasing the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which leads to stroke and other heart diseases.
According to American Diabetes Association, If you have diabetes, it’s better to stick with healthier protein sources, such as beans, nuts, fish and seafood, chicken, egg whites, and lean meat products, such as unprocessed red meat.
Does Bacon Increase Blood Sugar Levels?
Bacon is among the few foods with no glycemic index and glycemic load calculations due to its lack of carbohydrate content, which means it has little to no effect on blood sugar levels.
Since pork bacon does not contain added sugar or carbs, it is better than eating high-sugar or carbohydrate-rich foods. However, there are better ways to get protein than eating bacon regularly, as it is high in calories and saturated fats.
Does Bacon Lower Blood Sugar Levels?
Bacon cannot alone lower blood sugar levels, but the good thing is that it does not cause a blood sugar spike.
If you want to eat bacon and have low blood sugar levels simultaneously, you must eat it with fiber-rich foods that affect your blood glucose level.
Some of the foods that lower blood sugar levels include vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, shrimp and other seafood, nuts, nut butter (peanut butter), and seeds.
Benefits of Eating Bacon for Diabetics
Zero Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
Since bacon has a low carbohydrate content, it has a glycemic index and glycemic load of zero, which tells you that it will not affect your blood sugar level.
However, bacon is not the only food with a zero glycemic index. Most meat products have no glycemic index due to the lack of carbs content.
That means that bacon is one of many options; you can choose healthier protein sources, such as fish, seafood, and red meat.
A Good Protein Source
Every 100 grams of bacon provides 37 grams of protein, which is around 74% of the daily required protein intake.
According to Diabetes UK Org, protein is an essential nutrient for people with diabetes as it facilitates many processes in the body, including energy production, building and repairing body tissues, and making hormones and other molecules.
Additionally, protein helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, which can help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Lastly, protein helps with satiety. It takes longer for the body to digest protein than other macronutrients, which can help with feelings of fullness and reduce cravings.
Risks of Eating Bacon for Diabetics
High in Sodium
Although pork bacon does not contain added sugar, it does have high salt content. High sodium levels in patients with diabetes can severely affect their health as it can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, high sodium levels can cause water retention and increase the risk of edema and heart failure.
Since diabetic patients already have a higher risk of developing heart disease, they should avoid foods high in salt to lower the risks.
Aside from bacon, other foods high in sodium include processed food, such as chips, salted popcorn, cheese, soy sauce, gravy, and breakfast cereal.
High in Saturated Fat
Although the body needs fats to function, there are different types: saturated fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetic patients increase their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats intake, as they are healthy fats. In the same way, they also suggest a decrease in saturated fat intake.
Bacon contains high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which makes it an unhealthy option for people with diabetes. However, this does not mean that diabetic patients should never eat bacon. Experts only recommend a decrease in intake, not its total absence.
Meat Products Recommended for Diabetics
Very Lean Meat
Very lean meat products include chicken breast, skinless chicken, turkey, and fish.
Lean meat includes low-fat beef cuts such as flank steak, sirloin, and tenderloin, as well as lean pork, veal, and duck.
Meat Products Diabetics Should Avoid
Here are some of the common processed meat products that diabetic patients should avoid:
- Hot Dogs
- Corned Beef
- Beef Jerky
- High-salt deli meat
- Crispy Chicken
- Meat from Fast Food
What Kind Of Bacon Can A Diabetic Eat?
If you have diabetes but want to eat bacon, you can have it once in a while or choose a healthier bacon variety.
The best bacon for anyone is a low-sodium, low-nitrate, and low-fat version. Choose thin slices with less fat, as they contain more protein. Canadian bacon and turkey bacon are among the healthiest types of bacon that one can have.
Best Diabetes-Friendly Bacon Recipes
Apple and Bacon Salad
- 2 large apples cored and diced
- 8 bacon strips cooked and crumbled
- ½ cup walnut halves toasted
- 2 tbsp red onion finely diced
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix honey, mustard, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil until emulsified in a medium bowl.
- Add apples, bacon, walnuts, and red onion in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Smoked Beans with Basil and Bacon
- 1 pound cooked pinto beans
- 6 cups water
- 1 onion diced
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 bacon strips diced
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- In a large pot, add the beans, diced onion, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and sea salt to the pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
- Cook for about one and a half to 2 hours, occasionally stirring until the beans soften.
- Drain beans and reserve the liquid.
- In a separate pan, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crispy.
- Add the cooked bacon and chopped basil to the beans.
- Add enough reserved cooking liquid to the beans to moisten, and stir to combine.
Eggs are a great source of protein and essential nutrients, so eating them with bacon is a good idea. Just make sure that you use less salt when cooking the eggs.
Pizza is a great snack but is not the healthiest treat for people with diabetes as it is high in carbs and fats. Diabetic patients can eat pizza, but only in moderation.