Is turkey bacon okay in pregnancy?

Key Takeaways

Turkey bacon can be safely consumed in moderation during pregnancy. The key is to choose turkey bacon without added nitrates or nitrites, and cook it thoroughly until crispy. Turkey bacon offers some benefits over pork bacon, like less saturated fat, but it still contains sodium and should not completely replace healthy proteins and fats. When consumed in normal amounts as part of a balanced diet, turkey bacon will not harm a developing baby. But it’s best to limit processed meats and get nutrients from whole food sources.

Is it safe to eat turkey bacon while pregnant?

Turkey bacon is considered safe to eat during pregnancy as long as it is cooked thoroughly until crispy. The main concern with undercooked bacon of any kind is the potential exposure to harmful bacteria like salmonella or listeria, which can lead to foodborne illness. Thorough cooking kills any dangerous bacteria present.

As an animal product, turkey bacon falls into the same risk category for foodborne illness as other meats and eggs. As long as it is handled properly, stored correctly, and cooked all the way through, the risks are minimized.

Some doctors may advise pregnant women to avoid all cold deli meats, including turkey bacon, to be extra cautious about listeria exposure. But freshly cooked turkey bacon and other meats that are cooked to a safe internal temperature are universally considered safe during pregnancy.

Are there any benefits to choosing turkey bacon over pork bacon while pregnant?

Turkey bacon does have some advantages over regular pork bacon when consumed during pregnancy:

– Lower in saturated fat: Turkey meat contains less saturated fat than pork. Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels.

– Lower in sodium: Many turkey bacon options contain slightly less sodium per serving compared to traditional pork bacon. Consuming too much sodium can exacerbate pregnancy-related swelling and increase blood pressure.

– Lower calories: With around 20-40% fewer calories per ounce on average, turkey bacon can be the lighter option when watching pregnancy weight gain.

However, turkey bacon is still high in sodium compared to many other foods. It also lacks some of the potential benefits of pork bacon, like more protein and zinc. Overall, neither turkey or pork bacon should be a staple protein source in pregnancy.

Are there any concerns or disadvantages to eating turkey bacon while pregnant?

There are a few important considerations about turkey bacon intake during pregnancy:

– Nitrates/nitrites: Many types of bacon contain sodium nitrate and nitrite preservatives, which can form carcinogens when cooked at high heat. It’s best to choose nitrate/nitrite-free turkey bacon varieties.

– Heme iron: Turkey meat contains less heme iron than beef or pork, which may be easier to absorb, so turkey bacon is not the best source of this important pregnancy nutrient.

– Sodium content: While lower in sodium than pork bacon, turkey bacon is still high in salt and can contribute to excess sodium intake.

– Highly processed: All types of bacon are heavily processed, with potentially harmful effects when consumed regularly or in excess.

– Nutritional profile: Turkey bacon is not the best source of nutrients, offering little protein, few healthy fats, and no fiber or vitamins/minerals.

Should you avoid turkey bacon entirely while pregnant?

There is no need to completely avoid turkey bacon during a healthy pregnancy. Having an occasional serving of turkey bacon, such as 2-3 pieces a few times per month, is unlikely to cause harm. However, it is best not to overconsume any type of bacon or other processed meat while pregnant.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting processed meats to no more than 2 servings per week during pregnancy. A serving is considered 1-2 pieces of bacon.

Within these moderate amounts, turkey bacon is safer than pork bacon in pregnancy due to lower sodium, nitrite, and saturated fat levels. But turkey bacon should not be thought of as a healthy protein source to eat daily, since it lacks key nutrients found naturally in poultry and other whole foods.

Nutrition Facts for Turkey Bacon

To make the healthiest choice, read nutrition labels and compare brands of turkey bacon. Here are the nutrient profiles per 2 cooked slices (about 1 ounce) of popular turkey bacon brands:

Nutrient Oscar Mayer Jennie-O Applegate Hormel
Calories 40 35 40 35
Fat 3g 2.5g 2.5g 1.5g
Saturated Fat 1g 0.5g 0.5g 0.5g
Sodium 380mg 460mg 390mg 380mg
Protein 5g 6g 7g 6g
Sugar 1g 1g 0g 1g

As shown, turkey bacon contains less total fat, saturated fat, and calories compared to an equivalent serving of pork bacon. But sodium content remains high at 350-460mg per serving. Labels with no nitrates/nitrites are best.

Healthier ways to get protein during pregnancy besides turkey bacon

While turkey bacon can be incorporated into a healthy pregnancy diet, it should not serve as the main protein source. Here are much better options to prioritize for protein needs during pregnancy:

– Lean poultry like chicken and turkey: More filling and nutritious than processed turkey bacon.

– Fish and seafood: Provides omega-3s for baby’s brain development. Focus on low-mercury varieties like salmon, cod, shrimp.

– Eggs: A versatile and protein-rich food that supplies key nutrients for mother and baby.

– Beans and lentils: An affordable, fiber-rich plant-based protein to add to salads, soups, dips, etc.

– Tofu and tempeh: Nutritious soy-based protein sources that take on flavors nicely.

– Dairy foods: Milk, yogurt and cheese provide calcium in addition to protein.

– Nuts and seeds: Healthy unsaturated fats, fiber and plant protein from almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.

– Lean beef and pork: Provide heme iron important during pregnancy when consumed in moderation.

Focus on getting protein from minimally processed sources with nutrients like iron, omega-3s, choline, and B vitamins that benefit fetal development and maternal health.

Healthy breakfast ideas with turkey bacon while pregnant

In moderation, turkey bacon can be included in nutritious breakfasts during pregnancy. Some balanced options include:

– Turkey bacon avocado toast: Top whole grain or seeded toast with mashed avocado and add 1-2 slices turkey bacon. Serve with tomato slices and poached or scrambled egg whites.

– Turkey bacon spinach omelet: Saute spinach with onions and garlic, then combine with whisked eggs. Add diced turkey bacon and cook as an omelet. Top with reduced-fat cheese.

– Baked sweet potato with turkey bacon: Bake sweet potato sprayed with olive oil until soft. Top with crumbled turkey bacon, shredded low-fat cheddar, and sliced scallions.

– Turkey bacon and egg muffin: Make with egg, turkey bacon crumbles, diced bell pepper, spinach and part-skim mozzarella in a whole wheat English muffin.

– Yogurt berry parfait with turkey bacon: Layer Greek yogurt, fresh berries and chopped turkey bacon in a glass. Top with sliced almonds.

Best practices when cooking and storing turkey bacon while pregnant

To safely enjoy turkey bacon during pregnancy:

– Choose uncured/nitrate-free varieties.

– Check sell-by and use-by dates. Do not cook or eat turkey bacon past its expiration.

– Store unopened packages in the original seal in the coldest part of the refrigerator (40°F or below).

– Once opened, reseal and use within 1 week. Discard if smell or color changes.

– Cook until crispy and browned all the way through – do not eat undercooked bacon.

– Avoid cross-contaminating other foods by washing hands, utensils, and surfaces after handling raw turkey bacon.

Proper cooking, storage, and handling prevents bacteria like listeria or salmonella that could cause foodborne illness. Taking these precautions allows pregnant women to safely include turkey bacon in a balanced diet.

Is turkey bacon worth the health risks in pregnancy?

Overall, the health risks associated with occasional moderate turkey bacon intake during pregnancy are minimal. But the nutritional benefits are also negligible, since it is very high in sodium yet low in nutrients.

When choosing turkey bacon while pregnant, opt for nitrate-free varieties. Cook it thoroughly until crispy. And ensure the rest of your diet provides ample lean proteins, fruits/vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and key vitamins and minerals.

There are far more nutritious ways to get protein, iron, B vitamins and other pregnancy nutrients than processed meats like turkey bacon. So while turkey bacon in moderation may be safe, it is not recommended as a regular part of a healthy prenatal diet. Focus instead on incorporating more whole, nourishing protein foods like beans, eggs, yogurt, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meat.


Turkey bacon that is cooked thoroughly can be safely consumed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet during pregnancy. But it provides minimal nutritional value, so it should not serve as one of the main protein sources. Limit turkey bacon, choose varieties without nitrates or nitrites, and continue emphasizing more wholesome, nutrient-dense proteins and foods in your pregnancy diet for the best impact on your health and your baby’s development.

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