Can You Eat Bacon If You Have Diabetes?

Want to keep your blood sugar in check? Don’t eat or eat less of these 10 foods to stay healthy and avoid problems.

Bacon is a beloved breakfast food for many people. The savory, salty, smoky flavor is hard to resist. However, bacon is also high in fat, sodium, and nitrates, which can be problematic for people with diabetes. So can you still enjoy bacon in moderation if you have diabetes? Or is it better to avoid it altogether? Let’s take a closer look at the effects of bacon on diabetes management.

How Bacon Impacts Blood Sugar

Bacon itself does not contain carbohydrates so it does not directly raise blood sugar levels. However, the high fat content in bacon can indirectly lead to blood sugar fluctuations.

Here’s why

  • Fat takes longer for the body to digest compared to carbs or protein. This slows down the absorption of any carbs eaten at the same meal and causes blood sugar to rise gradually over several hours.

  • High-fat meals may lead to insulin resistance, making it more difficult for insulin to lower blood sugar effectively.

  • Eating high-fat foods like bacon stimulates the release of hormones that counteract insulin and raise blood sugar levels.

So while bacon itself does not contain carbs, it can still contribute to blood sugar spikes and instability when eaten in large amounts.

Bacon’s Effects on Cholesterol and Heart Health

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. In fact, adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes. Therefore, it’s crucial for people with diabetes to minimize other cardiovascular risk factors, like high cholesterol.

The saturated fat and cholesterol content in just 2-3 slices of bacon can be roughly equivalent to the maximum daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Frequent bacon consumption is linked with higher “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

The sodium in bacon can also increase blood pressure in those who are salt-sensitive, further burdening the heart. People with diabetes tend to be more sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium.

Nitrates in Bacon

Most bacon contains sodium nitrite, which is added to prevent bacterial growth and give bacon its distinctive color and flavor. Nitrites can be converted into harmful nitrosamines in the body, which are linked with an increased risk of stomach, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.

Studies show people with diabetes may be more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of nitrosamines. Although occasional nitrite exposure from bacon is unlikely to significantly raise cancer risk on its own, it’s one more reason for diabetes patients to limit intake.

Healthier Bacon Alternatives

If you have diabetes but still crave the flavor of bacon, here are some healthier options to consider:

  • Turkey bacon – This has fewer calories, less saturated fat, and more protein compared to regular pork bacon. Still, even turkey bacon is high in sodium, so consume in moderation.

  • Prosciutto – Dry-cured ham that is lower in fat and calories than bacon, while providing savory flavor. Limit portions to 2-3 thin slices.

  • Tempeh bacon – Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh bacon has dietary fiber, antioxidants, and zero cholesterol. It’s lower in saturated fat than animal-based bacon.

  • Shiitake mushroom bacon – Sliced shiitake mushrooms are seasoned with smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and other spices to mimic bacon. This plant-based version has nutrients but no fat or cholesterol.

How Much Bacon Is Safe If You Have Diabetes?

Most experts advise limiting bacon intake to no more than 2-3 times per month if you have diabetes. When you do eat bacon, follow these precautions:

  • Stick to just 1-2 slices, which provides plenty of flavor without going overboard on fat, sodium, and nitrates.

  • Avoid pairing bacon with other high-fat foods like sausage, cheese, or fried eggs. Choose lower-fat protein sources like egg whites or Canadian bacon.

  • Select lower-sodium bacon whenever possible, and drain excess grease after cooking.

  • Enjoy bacon as a side dish rather than a main breakfast feature so it’s balanced by fruits, veggies and whole grains.

  • Monitor your blood sugar closely for several hours after eating bacon to watch for spikes.

  • Talk to your doctor about whether you may need medication adjustments to cover the blood sugar effects of occasional bacon consumption.

Healthier Breakfast Options for Diabetes

While the savory flavor of bacon is hard to resist, there are many delicious and nutritious breakfast options that are safer for diabetes management:

Whole Grains

  • Oatmeal – Minimally processed oats are low glycemic and high in fiber. Top with berries and walnuts.
  • Whole grain toast – Look for minimal added sugars. Avocado toast is a tasty choice.
  • Whole wheat English muffin – Opt for a 100% whole wheat version, toasted with nut butter.

Lean Proteins

  • Eggs – Prepare scrambled, poached, or boiled. Veggie omelets boost nutrition.
  • Smoked salmon – Provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Pair with tomato slices.
  • Canadian bacon – Has less fat than regular bacon. Enjoy with an egg white omelet.
  • Tofu – Try pan-fried or scrambled with veggies for plant-based protein.


  • Banana – Slightly resistant starch helps control blood sugar. Enjoy with nut butter.
  • Berries – Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries provide antioxidants.
  • Grapefruit – Tart and low glycemic. Add cinnamon for more flavor.


  • Greek yogurt – High in protein, low in sugar. Mix in chia seeds and walnuts.
  • Cottage cheese – Provides a protein boost. Top with mashed avocado and lemon pepper.
  • Low-fat milk – Pair with a high fiber cereal like bran flakes or shredded wheat.

Other Tips

  • Drink coffee, unsweetened tea, water, or sparkling water instead of fruit juice.
  • Add a side of tree nuts for monounsaturated fats, fiber and protein.
  • Incorporate veggies like bell pepper, tomato, onion, and mushrooms.
  • Use aromatic herbs and spices like garlic, cilantro, dill, basil, rosemary or thyme to add flavor.
  • Prioritize high-fiber foods to help control blood sugar spikes.

The Bottom Line

While the American Diabetes Association doesn’t prohibit eating bacon, it should be considered an occasional treat rather than a regular part of your diet if you have diabetes. Overdoing it on bacon and other processed meats raises your risk of heart problems and other diabetes complications.

Aim for no more than 2-3 servings of bacon per month, in moderation alongside other nutritious foods. Pay attention to your body’s response. And be sure to consult your healthcare provider about how to safely incorporate occasional bacon intake into your personal diabetes management plan. With some caution and moderation, you can still enjoy the signature flavor of bacon without sabotaging your health.

can you eat bacon if you have diabetes

Limit Packaged Snacks and Baked Goods

can you eat bacon if you have diabetes

can you eat bacon if you have diabetes

Not only do packaged snacks and baked goods like chips, pretzels, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, and snack cakes have a lot of sugar, trans fats, sodium, and preservatives, but they also often have trans fats that are bad for you. The “bad” cholesterol (LDL) goes up, the “good” cholesterol (HDL) goes down, and your risk of heart disease goes up. They’re also even worse for you than saturated fats, especially for people with type 2 diabetes who are already more likely to get heart disease, says Kimberlain. Additionally, she says that there is no safe amount of trans fats to eat, especially if you have type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that trans fats are now listed right below the amount of saturated fats on food labels, making it easier to steer clear of them. Look for labels that list 0 g trans fat, but keep in mind that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), products with less than 0.5 g can claim 0 g, so they may not be trans-fat free. Check the ingredients list as well to make sure the product doesn’t contain any partially hydrogenated oils, a major source of trans fats. Seek out healthy fats in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive and canola oils.

Sip on Flavored Seltzer Rather Than Fruit Juice

can you eat bacon if you have diabetes

can you eat bacon if you have diabetes

While fiber-rich whole fruits are considered healthy carbohydrates for people with diabetes, fruit juice is another story. People with diabetes should avoid drinking juice, even 100 percent fruit juice, says Kimberlain. It’s true that fruit juice has more minerals and vitamins than soda and other sugary drinks, but the problem is that juices have a lot of fruit sugar, which makes your blood sugar rise quickly. She also says that drinking fruit juice doesn’t make you feel full like eating a piece of fruit does because juice doesn’t have the same fiber as whole fruit. For a cool drink, choose plain seltzer with no added sugar or naturally flavored seltzer with a squeeze of lime or lemon. Infusing water with cucumber and mint is nice too, suggests Kimberlain.

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Is Bacon bad for diabetes?

According to experts, it’s the “processed” part of meat that poses a problem for people with diabetes, as well as the high salt and saturated fat content. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who eat bacon, sausage and other processed meats have a 19 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Can one eat bacon with diverticulosis?

You can eat bacon with diverticulosis, but it is not the most recommended. In a person with diverticulosis, it is recommended to consume foods with soluble fiber such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

Can diabetics eat a bacon sandwich?

Aim for crispy bacon that will crumble easily over your meals and deliver an intense hit of flavor. While a daily bacon sandwich should probably remain off the cards for people with diabetes, everything can be enjoyed in moderation.

Can you eat bacon if you have high blood sugar?

No, bacon is not off limits completely. Meats, even processed meats are a high protein, low carb food so they won’t influence blood sugar and A1c levels, which is great news for you. However, processed meats like bacon shouldn’t make up the majority of your meals.

Does eating pork bacon increase diabetes risk?

As a result, researchers suggest that red meat consumption increases diabetes risk independently of dietary patterns. People with diabetes should avoid or limit their consumption of pork bacon as it is high in fat and salt content and can increase risk diabetes.

Can you eat bacon a day?

However, enjoy your bacon in moderation, occasionally . Keep in mind that bacon is a processed meat. For the most part, non-processed meats, poultry, and fish should make up the predominant proteins in your eating plan, along with eggs, dairy products, and some nuts and seeds.

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