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Is Bacon Low FODMAP?

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We love bacon and we know you do too, but is bacon low FODMAP? YES, bacon is low FODMAP!

Bacon, specifically “semi-trimmed, middle rasher” bacon, is low FODMAP in amounts of 2 rashers or 60 g, according to Monash University.

strips of meaty bacon on a wooden board

Monash lists bacon as being is high in protein and fat, and does not contain carbohydrates – therefore FODMAPs are not an issue. High fat foods, however, can aggravate some people with IBS, so use your best judgment.

Monash places low FODMAP serving sizes as up to 500 g, which is the most they lab tested.

FODMAP Friendly has tested the same type of bacon and suggest that you can “Enjoy in unlimited amounts”. This is from a FODMAP perspective.

crisp bacon. I
mage credit nelea33 via Shutterstock

Bacon Is Low FODMAP!

In personal emails with the researchers at Monash about bacon, we have received specific information and will be detailing those here. There are some particular aspects to understand about bacon so that you are buying – and eating – the right kind from a FODMAP perspective.

It is true that the pork that bacon is made from is protein and fat, neither of which contain FODMAPs, however, as you will see, to become bacon the pork is treated in a variety of ways, and only one approach has been tested by Monash University.

Please note that this article is about bacon in relation to the low FODMAP diet. We are not delving deeply into other health aspects associated with bacon.

If you are interested in learning what the World Health Organization (WHO) has to say about it, you can read their 2015 report and/or read about it from the USDA standpoint. We will touch upon nitrates and nitrites.

First, What is Bacon?

According to the FDA bacon is, “the cured belly of a swine (hog) carcass. If meat from other portions of the carcass is used, the product name must be qualified to identify the portions, e.g., “Pork Shoulder Bacon.”

This article is about “streaky” bacon, another term for the raw, uncooked pork bacon that we all think of as simply “bacon”, and is the kind most often found and sold in the United States. The streaks are alternating strips of pink meat and white fat that cook up into that porky deliciousness we crave.

Do You Want To Avoid Nitrates and Nitrites?

Bacon is a cured product and nitrites and nitrates are typically used in the curing process. Many people have concerns or even fears of nitrates and nitrites and indeed there is a lot of confusion swirling around them. Let’s break it down.

What is Sodium Nitrite?

Sodium Nitrite is a salt and anti-oxidant often used in the process of curing meats such as bacon, ham and hot dogs. It is used for its ability to halt the growth of Clostridium botulinum (which can cause botulism) and Listeria monocytogenes, and also gives these cured meats their rosy-pink color and contributes to its expected and beloved flavor.

Remember this part about flavor, as we will return to it later in this article.

What many people do not realize is that vegetables contain nitrate, which converts to sodium nitrite when it comes in contact with saliva in our mouths.

In fact, the great majority of sodium nitrite that we ingest comes from vegetables such as celery, spinach, lettuces, even fresh herbs.

What About Nitrite & Nitrate-Free Bacon?

Read labels carefully. What you will see is that many bacon manufacturing companies use celery powder or celery juice to cure their bacon in lieu of added nitrates or nitrates. Consumers see the ingredient “celery” on the label and feel good about their choice.

They believe the product is “healthier”. The thing is, the celery product contains sodium nitrate. This is how the manufacturers get to say “no added” nitrites, but it doesn’t mean that the product is nitrite free.

You can seek out those labels that have no added nitrates or nitrites, however nitrites are nitrites no matter where they come from.

Consumers have asked whether bacon cured with celery powder ends up with lower or higher nitrite content and the jury is still out.

To further confuse things, the FDA requires processed meats that do not have any added nitrites or nitrates to state that fact on the label along with a statement that the product is “uncured”. The meat industry is not happy with this labeling requirement since the products are actually cured from other ingredients – like the celery powder or celery juice.

And as you learned above, the product ends up containing nitrites anyway. As a consumer, I don’t like this approach either.

What About “Naked Bacon”?

There are a few products in the UK and in the US that are bacon cured with just salt and/or spices and/or natural flavorings. (As an aside, prosciutto and country hams use simple salt as well for their curing processes).

You could try “naked” bacons but they have not been tested for FODMAPs and therefore are not the type of bacon that Monash recommends at this time. Also, some of these products, to some people, do not taste bacon-y. Remember, the classic curing process that bacon goes through not only preserves it, but alters its look and taste as well.

Nitrates and nitrites very much contribute to bacon tasting like bacon! A couple that we can recommend are the Vande Rose and Benton’s; see below).

Should You Eat Bacon?

It’s up to you. We buy all kinds of bacon; we just don’t eat it everyday.

Red neon sign saying Long Live Bacon against a brick wall.

Can You Eat Bacon On The Low FODMAP Diet?

But what we are all concerned with here at FODMAP Everyday® is FODMAPs. Elizabeth Ly, Project Officer for the Monash University FODMAP Initiative explained to us that the bacon that they have tested contains nitrates and that they cannot at this time recommend bacon cured with celery powder or celery juice.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you have been eating bacon cured with celery products and it sits well with you, proceed as you like. If you want to try those “no added nitrate” products on yourself, we encourage you to do so.

You will only find out what your individual tolerance is if you try various products. Just know that the bacon Monash researchers are recommending is cured with nitrates.

Is Bacon Gluten-Free?

Not all of it. Believe it or not, there is bacon that contains gluten, therefore, if you are following a gluten-free diet, read labels and choose bacon that is gluten-free. There are many brands offering gluten-free bacon.

Raw bacon.
Image credit Andrey Starostin via Shutterstock

What Kind of Bacon Do You Recommend?

It depends on what your needs are. Here are a few suggestions.

Supermarket Bacon:

  • Jones Dairy Farm Dry Aged Cherrywood Smoked Bacon Slices. Ingredients: Cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite​. The product is gluten-free.
  • Applegate Naturals Thick Cut Bacon. Ingredients: Pork, Water. Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Cane Sugar, Celery Powder. The product is gluten-free, antibiotic free and uses no GMO ingredients.
  • Plumrose Premium Thick Sliced Bacon. Ingredients: Cured with water, salt, sodium phosphate, brown sugar, sodium erythrobate, sodium nitrite.

Specialty Bacon:

  • Trader Joe’s Uncured Apple Smoked Bacon. Ingredients: Pork bellies, water, sodium lactate, salt, turbinado sugar, spice extractives, celery powder.
  • Vande Rose Farms Bacon. This bacon is not cheap and it not easy to find, but it has won many test-tastes and is an exceptional product. It is made from vegetarian fed Duroc heritage breed hogs raised on Iowa farms. Always antibiotic free. Ingredients: (This is the manufacturer’s description) Dry-cured with brown sugar, salt, and pepper; hand rubbed; applewood-smoked.
  • Benton’s Hickory Smoked Country Bacon. Made in Tennessee; smoked for 48 hours. Ingredients: Cured with salt, brown sugar, pepper.
  • Niman Ranch Dry-Cured Applewood Smoked Bacon. Ingredients: pork, salt, cane and maple sugars, dextrose and sodium nitrite. Gluten free.

If you are looking for our recipes including bacon, make sure to check out our Bacon Deviled Eggs, Brussels Sprouts & Bacon, Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin and BLT Pasta, to start. You might also be interested in our article All About Ham.

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