A bacon, egg and cheese sandwich is a breakfast sandwich consisting of bacon, eggs (typically fried or scrambled), and cheese on bread. It’s a popular breakfast choice because it’s tasty, convenient, and filling. However, with its high fat and calorie content, it also tends to be less healthy than some other breakfast options. So is a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich actually a nutritious way to start your day or is it just an indulgent treat? Here’s a comprehensive look at the nutritional pros and cons of this breakfast sandwich.
To determine if a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich is healthy, we need to look at its nutritional components. Here is an overview of the main ingredients:
– High in fat, especially saturated fat. 2 slices of pan-fried bacon contains around 10 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat.
– Has protein (around 4 grams per 2 slices) but the protein to fat ratio is low.
– Contains some B vitamins like niacin as well as minerals like zinc and iron.
– High in sodium (most bacon contains 300-400mg sodium per 2 slices).
– A good source of protein (around 6 grams per large egg).
– Contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, selenium, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
– Also contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin.
– The yolks are high in cholesterol (around 185mg per large egg yolk)
– Good source of protein, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Calcium content depends on type of cheese.
– High in saturated fat and sodium. Cheddar cheese as an example has around 9 grams of fat and 180mg sodium per ounce.
– Nutrients vary by cheese type. Swiss cheese is higher in sodium while mozzarella is lower in fat.
– Provides carbohydrates for energy.
– Can add fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron depending on type of bread. Whole wheat bread contains more fiber and nutrients than white bread.
– Bread adds extra calories and refined carbs like white bread have high glycemic index.
– Store-bought bread often contains added sugar and preservatives.
Calories and Macronutrients
The total calorie and macronutrient content of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich can vary based on the type and amount of each ingredient used.
On average though, a typical bacon, egg and cheese sandwich made with:
– 2 slices of bacon
– 1 fried egg
– 1 slice of American cheese
– 1 slice of white bread
As you can see, the egg and cheese provide protein while the bacon and bread provide most of the calories and carbohydrates. The main nutrients to pay attention to from a health perspective are the high saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol content.
While not the most nutritious breakfast choice, a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich does have some potential benefits:
Keeps You Full
Thanks to its protein and fat content, this sandwich may keep you feeling satiated until lunchtime. One study found that eating eggs for breakfast resulted in greater feelings of fullness and lower calorie intake later in the day compared to a bagel breakfast. The protein and fat in this sandwich is digested slower, keeping you fuller for longer.
Contains Nutritious Ingredients
The individual ingredients like eggs, cheese, and certain breads have nutritional value. Eggs provide high-quality protein, iron, and B vitamins. Cheese is a good source of calcium and vitamin B12. Whole grain or multi-grain bread offers important nutrients like fiber.
Quick and Easy to Make
It’s fast and simple to put together a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich at home or order one at a café or restaurant. This convenience makes it an easy breakfast choice when you’re short on time.
Can Provide Energy
With around 500 calories and plenty of protein and fat, this sandwich can give you energy to start your day. The carbs from the bread also provide glucose for fuel. Some types of bread like whole wheat have a lower glycemic index, providing longer lasting energy.
While it certainly has some nutritional pluses, a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich also has several important downsides:
High in Saturated Fat
The bacon and cheese in particular drive up the saturated fat content. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 5-6% of total calories which is around 13 grams based on a 2000 calorie diet. This sandwich provides nearly an entire day’s worth of recommended saturated fat!
Contains Processed Meat
Studies link processed meats like bacon to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. The preservatives used in bacon such as nitrates have been shown to be carcinogenic.
Very High in Salt
The combination of bacon and cheese results in an extremely high sodium sandwich, containing over half of the recommended daily value. Too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke risk.
Not Enough Fiber
With white bread as the typical base, this sandwich lacks adequate fiber. Whole grains and fiber help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Can Lead to Weight Gain
At around 500 calories, this high-fat sandwich can contribute to weight gain if eaten frequently without adjusting other calorie intake accordingly. The refined carbs in white bread also have a high glycemic index, which may lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
Luckily, it’s possible to still enjoy the tasty combination of bacon, eggs, and cheese while making it a healthier breakfast sandwich:
Use Canadian Bacon or Turkey Bacon
Swapping regular bacon for lower-fat turkey bacon or Canadian bacon reduces the saturated fat and sodium.
Opt for Low-fat Cheese
Cheeses like part-skim mozzarella or low-fat swiss cut down on the amount of saturated fat.
Choose Whole Grain Bread
Breads like whole wheat, multigrain, or sourdough provide important fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Whether it’s spinach, tomato, avocado, or onion, adding veggies boosts fiber and provides key nutrients.
Use Healthier Cooking Methods
Baking bacon in the oven instead of frying reduces fat content. Poaching or scrambling eggs in nonstick pans uses less butter or oil.
Stick to 1 slice of cheese and 1 slice of bread instead of doubling up to cut calories, fat, carbs, and sodium in half.
Homemade Beats Store-bought
Making it at home allows you to control ingredients and portions. Restaurant versions tend to have more calories, fat, and sodium.
The Bottom Line
Overall, while delicious, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is a high-calorie, high-fat indulgence. The high amounts of sodium and saturated fat from the bacon and cheese combined with refined carbs from white bread make it a less than optimal choice.
However, with some simple tweaks like using leaner ingredients, more veggies, and whole grain bread, you can enjoy this sandwich more often as part of a healthy diet. To make this a regular breakfast option, consider splitting with a partner or limiting yourself to just once a week. Paired with fruits, yogurt, and whole grain options during the rest of the week, it can be incorporated into a nutritious breakfast routine.
In moderation alongside an otherwise balanced diet and active lifestyle, the occasional bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich can be part of a healthy breakfast. But daily breakfasts of this sandwich, especially the higher-fat versions, tip the scales toward unhealthy.
Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Breakfast Sandwich
Here are some other tips to create a more nutritious bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich:
Boost Nutrition with Add-ons
– Add sliced tomato for vitamin C and lycopene.
– Try melted spinach for vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, and antioxidants.
– Mix in sliced avocado for heart-healthy fats and fiber.
– Top with caramelized onions for flavor, fiber, and vitamin C.
– Add a slice of roasted red pepper for vitamins A and C.
Amp Up Flavor Without Fat
– Use mustard, salsa, or hot sauce instead of high-fat condiments like mayo or butter.
– Add spices like black pepper, paprika, oregano, or red pepper flakes.
– Use pesto, chimichurri, tapenade, or hummus to add flavor.
– Top with a fried egg instead of scrambled for creaminess.
– Sprinkle on fresh herbs like chives, dill, basil, or cilantro.
Make It a Meal
– Serve with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit on the side.
– Pair with oatmeal or whole grain cereal.
– Include a side salad of mixed greens and vinaigrette.
– Enjoy it with a serving of fresh seasonal fruit.
– Drink it with a latte or cappuccino made with skim or low-fat milk.
– Assemble the night before and store tightly wrapped in fridge.
– Preheat oven or toaster oven before eating to heat through.
– Keep cooked bacon strips and scrambled egg patties in fridge to assemble week of sandwiches.
– Freeze assembled sandwiches wrapped well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before heating.
Sample Healthy Recipes
Here are a few ideas for healthier bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches:
The “Vitamin Sandwich”
– 2 slices whole wheat bread
– 2 slices tomato
– 1 slice avocado
– 1 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese
– 1 slice Canadian bacon
– 1 poached egg
– 1 tablespoon pesto
Southwestern Breakfast Sandwich
– 2 slices multigrain bread
– 2 slices turkey bacon
– 1 egg, scrambled
– 1 tablespoon black bean spread
– 2 tablespoons shredded low-fat pepper jack cheese
– Sliced onions, jalapeno, tomato
“Veggie Bacon” Sandwich
– 2 slices whole grain bread
– 2 slices eggplant bacon
– 1 slice swiss cheese
– 1 egg, poached or fried
– Sliced tomato, onion, spinach
– 1 tablespoon hummus
Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwich
– 1 whole wheat pita
– 2 slices prosciutto
– 1 scrambled egg
– 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
– Sliced tomato, cucumber, onion
– Tzatziki sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about the nutrition and health impact of bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches:
Is it unhealthy to eat a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich every day?
Yes, eating a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich every day would be considered unhealthy. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat, sodium, and processed meat intake. This sandwich is very high in all three because of the bacon and cheese. Occasional intake would be fine, but making it a daily habit would certainly increase risk of chronic illnesses over time.
Is a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich worse than other breakfast choices?
It’s worse than most common breakfast choices like Greek yogurt with fruit, oatmeal, whole grain cereal or toast, and smoothies. The exceptions would be other sandwiches made with processed meats like sausage biscuits or sandwiches with fried proteins like a fried chicken sandwich or fried fish sandwich, which are equally or more unhealthy.
Is it healthier without the bread?
Removing the bread reduces the carbs and eliminates any preservatives or sodium from processed bread. However, the bacon and egg yolks still make it a high-fat, high-cholesterol choice. Going breadless does cut the calories and carbs, but it’s still a high saturated fat meal.
Should I feel guilty if I occasionally eat one?
You do not need to feel guilty eating it occasionally, like once a week or so, as part of an otherwise balanced diet. The problems come from making it a steady daily habit. Used in moderation alongside more nutritious choices during the week, enjoying this sandwich occasionally will likely not have major health impacts.
Does it make a difference if I get it from a restaurant vs. make it at home?
Restaurant versions tend to be made with higher-fat, higher-sodium ingredients like double bacon and double cheese. They also tend to use higher-fat cooking methods like deep frying. Making it at home allows you to moderate the amount of bacon, cheese, salt, butter or oil. Homemade versions can be healthier with leaner meats, low-fat cheese, just 1 slice of whole grain bread, and cooking methods like baking or poaching.
A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich can be an enjoyable breakfast option once in a while but is high in saturated fat, sodium, and calories to be healthy as an everyday habit. Choosing lower sodium Canadian bacon, using just 1 slice of cheese, opting for whole grains over white bread, adding veggies, and cooking with less butter and oil are ways to make this sandwich a bit better for you. For optimal health, balance it out with more nutritious breakfasts during the week like oats, yogurt, fruit smoothies, and veggie-filled egg scrambles. As an occasional treat alongside an otherwise balanced diet, you can enjoy a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich without guilt. Just don’t let it become a daily breakfast staple.