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Ugly Side Effects of Eating Too Much Bacon

Experts warn what will happen to your body if you eat too much of this greasy food.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

When my Hungarian family gathers for our annual reunion, the highlight of the day is the szalonnasütés, the bacon roasting. We skewer thick slabs of salted fatty cuts of pork on green switches and roast them over hardwood coals until they drip the delicious fat, which we press into rye bread prepped with paprika, thinly sliced onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, and the crispy chunks of bacon.

This eastern European delicacy is simply glorious. Your cardiologist would probably add "and deadly."

Fortunately, for our arteries' sake, we indulge in this treat only once a year. Eating too much bacon is a habit that may come with some ugly side effects, science suggests (though grandpop, who ate szalonna regularly and lived a pretty active life to 93, would disagree). Here are the potential downsides of getting bacon grease on your chin every day, and instead of experiencing these ugly side effects of eating too much bacon, why not focus on these 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now?

1

You'll get very thirsty and may develop high blood pressure.

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You can thank the sodium in bacon for both. Four thin slices of bacon, the typical number you get in a restaurant order of a bacon and eggs breakfast, contains 776 milligrams of sodium, about half of the "ideal" 1,500 milligrams daily limit recommended for most adults by the American Heart Association. Too much sodium in your daily diet increases your risk of high blood pressure and related health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Here are the Dangerous Side Effects of Having High Blood Pressure.

2

You may put on pounds.

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A staple of the ketogenic diet plan, bacon can help you lose weight on an ultra-low-carb diet because its protein and fats are highly satiating. And while bacon contains saturated fats, it also contains monounsaturated fat, including the oleic acid that makes olive oil so heart-healthy.

But remember, bacon is also a calorie-dense food. Four slices of pan-fried bacon contain about 220 calories. If you add that bacon to an egg-and-cheese-on-a-bagel sandwich every day, you could gain ample amounts of body fat.

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3

Type 2 diabetes and heart disease may be in your future.

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Diets with highly processed meats are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, according to numerous studies. And you don't get much more processed than cured bacon.

One in Circulation by Harvard researchers showed that on average every 50 gram daily serving of processed meat (about 5 slices of bacon, 2 slices of deli meat, or 1 hot dog) was associated with a 42% high risk of developing heart disease and 19% higher risk of diabetes. Compared with red meats, processed meats studied contained an average of four times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives, according to lead study author Renata Micha, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health.

"This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen in processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats," she told Harvard T.H. Chan School News.

Here are the 7 Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Deli Meats, According to Experts.

4

You may be at greater risk of cancer.

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Bacon and other processed cured meats typically contain nitrites and nitrates, preservative compounds that improve the quality of meats and extend their shelf life. When exposed to high heat, both nitrites and nitrates can form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that a regular diet of processed meat can increase a person's risk for colorectal cancer. Epidemiological studies estimated that eating two thick bacon slices daily increased risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. To limit preservatives, you can look for labels reading "Uncured Bacon, no Nitrates or Nitrites added" but remember that uncured bacon still contains a lot of saturated fat, which has been associated with heart disease and higher cancer mortality.

With all the potential problems associated with processed meats, you might want to start limiting your meaty meals and learn How Meatless Mondays Can Save You Money and Help the Planet.

5

You might be prone to bipolar disorder.

High protein keto breakfast of bacon and eggs
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Bipolar disorder, also referred to as mania, is a depressive illness that may be triggered in some cases by environmental exposures. In one study, researchers found that feeding rats meat laced with the food preservative nitrate caused the rodents to exhibit a hyperactive behavior reminiscent of human mania as well as changes in intestinal microbiota similar to those in people suffering bipolar disorder.

In addition, the study in Molecular Psychiatry compared the diets of patients diagnosed with clinical psychiatric disorders like mania with mentally healthy individuals and discovered that a history of regularly consuming cured, dried meat containing nitrates were associated with people suffering from mania.

The best thing to do for your body if you love bacon? Limit your bacon intake, and portion it out. You can easily control your portion sizes by whipping up one of these 33 Best Bacon Recipes Ever.

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. Read more
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