Why Bacon Smells So Good and What Happens to Your Body When You Chow Down

I think we can all agree that the more information we have about bacon, the better. It's just good practice to be informed about the food you put into your body. That's why we've got two informative infographics for you that cover two important bacon-related topics. You're not going to want to miss this important discussion!

First up, there's the age-old question of why bacon smells so amazing. There are few breakfast foods that have such a powerful and enticing smell, making it all but impossible not to eat bacon when you smell it. Maybe cinnamon rolls, but even those are better with bacon on them. Over at Compound Interest, they're taking a look at the science behind the smell of bacon. Mmmm, chemistry.

Oddly enough, there haven't been a lot of scientific studies done analyzing the smell of cooking bacon. But one study did look at the compounds released by cooking bacon and compared them to the compounds released by cooking a pork loin. Both pig-based, you might think that they would give off the same results.

bacon health benefits
Compound Interest

There's a bit of science behind the results, but it fries down to the fact that there's not one specific chemical that gives bacon its smell -- it's the combination of 150 different compounds that create the heavenly smell.

What happens is the sugars in the meat break down and react with amino acids via the Maillard Reaction, which is basically the way food turns brown (think of it as a caramelization process). Those compounds then react with compounds from the nitrate introduced in the curing process, along with other meaty compounds.

You may not care how that smell happens, only that when your nose catches a whiff of that aroma, you're nearby so that you can eat some bacon. But I bet you don't know what happens to your body an hour after you eat that bacon.

In the interest of science, here's a detailed infographic that really breaks down what you go through an hour after eating bacon. This critical information may surprise you.

bacon health benefits
Bacon Salt Blog

In all seriousness, bacon contains a few things that are good for you, including high-quality protein, and high levels of essential vitamins and minerals including thiamin, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, naisin, and selenium. One of the bacon health benefits is that it has a high protein to fat ratio, making it a good source of animal protein.

It does contain fat, of course; about half is saturated fat, while about half of the fat content is unsaturated and contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which do have health benefits.

There are plenty of people who will tell you that eating bacon will improve your mood, give you energy, and protect your brain. There's some truth to those claims. If eating bacon makes you happy, it is more likely to improve your mood. And foods with protein and vitamins are good for your heart health and brain health. In fact, bacon is high in something called choline, a compound which has been shown to benefit brain health.

bacon health benefits

More importantly, it's the kind of bacon you eat that matters most. Because of the way most bacon is cured, it's high in salt. If you eat a lot of foods high in sodium, you're more likely to have high blood pressure and other health issues. And processed meats like bacon have been linked by researchers to everything from migraines to heart disease to cancer.

Be mindful that some bacon alternatives like turkey bacon are just as processed and high in salt as regular bacon.

We're not claiming that bacon is a health food because while that would be nice, it's not the case. However, it's not inherently unhealthy either. Like all good things, eating bacon should be practiced in moderation. But if it's part of an overall healthy diet, then go ahead and indulge.

Watch: How to Make Beer-Candied Bacon

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