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Sharp Health News

Bacon alternatives (infographic)

Nov. 12, 2015

It's the meat that spawned a thousand foodie trends: bacon. You love its texture and savor its flavor, but new research confirms what you might have already suspected: processed meats like bacon contribute to a higher risk of colorectal and other cancers.

So, how to replace your favorite salty meat with a healthier alternative? Sharp registered dietitian Lynne' Schlatzein offers five substitutes for bacon's tasty — if unhealthy — attributes.

Bacon alternatives (infographic). Giving bacon the boot? Try these instead. It smells good. It tastes good. But let’s face it – the health benefits of bacon are lacking. Bacon will be bacon. There are 43 calories, 3 grams of fat, 185 milligrams of sodium and 9 milligrams of cholesterol per strip. It’s bad because it is processed and its nitrates are linked to colorectal and other cancers. It is high in saturated fat and increases the risk of heart disease. It is high in sodium and increases the risk of high blood pressure. Finally, it is high in calories and can lead to weight gain (without a balanced activity level). Try these tasty alternatives to add flavor and variety to your diet: Tempeh. If you love bacon’s texture, try tempeh. This soy product has a rich flavor, and if sliced like bacon, shares its feel. Peppers. If you love bacon’s bold flavor, try peppers. Spice up soups and stews with paprika and chipotle peppers for a tangy, smoky flavor. Avocado. If you love bacon’s indulgence, try avocado. Cut it in slices to make an ALT (avocado, lettuce and tomato) sandwich, or add it to a salad. In fact, there is an avocado called bacon. It was named for James Bacon and is found in Southern California. Tofu. If you love bacon’s diversity of flavors, try pressed baked tofu. Marinate it in maple syrup or chili sauce for extra oomph. Nuts. If you love bacon’s crumbled crunch, try nuts. Nuts add a healthy snap to salads and snacks. Eating too many processed foods, especially processed meats, dramatically increases your risk of cancer and heart disease, says Lynne’ Schatzlein, a registered dietician at Sharp. So fill your omelets, sandwiches and salads with healthy nuts, veggies and avocado instead. Then, enjoy bacon once in a while as a treat to an overall healthy diet.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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