These Healthy Swaps Can Replace Your Bacon

For those who can't imagine a weekend brunch (or football party, or any event) that doesn't include a tempting pile of rich and crispy bacon, there's reason to take a look at the larger world of breakfast meats. Pork bacon may be king of the breakfast plate in terms of flavor and satisfaction, but there's a dark side to those tasty strips, earning them two thumbs-down from nutritionists and medical experts.

Aside from being high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, bacon (along with other processed meats) is classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), meaning that it is known to cause cancer (via Prevention).

Most bacon contains nitrates or nitrites, which, according to Healthline, inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria and enhance flavor. However, problems occur when nitrates or nitrites are heated to high temperatures and harmful chemical compounds called nitrosamines form as a result.

Dr. Neal Barnard, a professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, explains, "[Bacon is] linked to some of the most common and deadly cancers that we have.... The problem we have is that we are with bacon now where we were with tobacco in the 60's" (per HuffPost).

The many bacon alternatives available

Let's face it... bacon is delicious. So what is a devoted bacon-lover to do if they want to eat healthier? The better-for-you bacon alternatives on the market can still offer much of what we love about original pork bacon — namely, the salty, rich, umami-infused flavor and crispy texture.

Turkey bacon, of course, is probably the most well-known alternative to pork bacon. It has an improved health profile due to the fact that it has about half the amount of saturated fat as pork bacon (via Prevention). However, it's important to note that it's still high in sodium and relatively high in cholesterol. And not all turkey bacon brands are created equal. You will likely have to try several before finding one that is worthy of a place on your breakfast plate.

Adventurous eaters might enjoy other bacon alternatives, including duck bacon, chicken bacon, and meatless bacon substitutes made from tempeh, tofu, mushrooms, and even eggplant. Are they just like pork bacon? No, but can they offer a tasty, crispy, guilt-free alternative to eat alongside your eggs and toast? Sure!