Are Imitation Bacon Bits Bad For You? The Truth Revealed

Imitation bacon bits have become a popular topping for salads, baked potatoes, and other dishes. With their smoky salty bacon-y flavor, it’s easy to see why people love them. But are these crunchy little bits actually bad for your health? Let’s find out.

What Are Imitation Bacon Bits?

Imitation bacon bits are made to look and taste like real bacon bits. But unlike real bacon, imitation bacon bits are made from textured vegetable protein (usually soy protein). This plant-based protein is processed and flavored to replicate the taste and texture of bacon.

Other ingredients like canola oil, salt, sugar, artificial smoke flavor, and preservatives are also added. This gives the soy protein a salty, smoky bacon flavor. Some brands even add artificial coloring to better mimic the look of real bacon bits.

Pros of Imitation Bacon Bits

There are some advantages to using imitation bacon bits rather than real bacon

  • Lower in fat and calories – Imitation bacon bits are made from soy, which is naturally low in fat and calories Real bacon can be high in saturated fat and calories.

  • Lower sodium options available – Many brands offer reduced sodium imitation bacon bits, which can be better for controlling high blood pressure.

  • Vegetarian/vegan – Imitation bacon bits contain no real meat, so they are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Cheaper than real bacon – Pound for pound, imitation bacon bits cost less than real bacon. This makes them an affordable topping option.

Cons of Imitation Bacon Bits

However, there are also some downsides to watch out for with imitation bacon bits:

  • Highly processed – To make soy taste and look like bacon, many artificial ingredients and flavors are used. This makes imitation bacon bits a highly processed food.

  • High sodium – While lower sodium options exist, regular imitation bacon bits can be very high in sodium. Too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure.

  • Lack of nutrients – Imitation bacon bits supply little nutritional value beyond protein. Real bacon contains some vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

  • Artificial preservatives – Preservatives like sodium nitrite are commonly added to imitation bacon bits. There are health concerns related to consuming too many preservatives.

  • May contain MSG – Some brands contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) for added flavor. MSG can cause reactions in sensitive individuals like headaches, fatigue, and nervous system disturbances.

  • GMO soy concerns – Most imitation bacon bits are made with GMO soybeans. There are debates around the safety of genetically modified foods.

Are Imitation Bacon Bits Unhealthy?

Imitation bacon bits aren’t the most nutritious food out there. But consumed occasionally and in moderation, they can be incorporated into an overall healthy diet for most people.

Potentially harmful ingredients like sodium nitrite and MSG are regulated by the FDA and generally recognized as safe in the small amounts used. Still, some people may want to avoid them.

For most individuals, the biggest health threat from imitation bacon bits is the high sodium content. Consuming too much sodium raises blood pressure, increasing the risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and other health problems.

Those with high blood pressure, kidney issues, or who are sodium-sensitive should limit or avoid imitation bacon bits due to the high salt content. Checking labels and choosing low-sodium varieties can help reduce sodium intake.

Overall, imitation bacon bits are fine for occasional use, but shouldn’t be consumed daily or in large amounts. Moderation is key, as with any processed food.

Healthier Ways to Get the Bacon Bits Flavor

If you want to cut back on imitation bacon bits but still crave the smoky, salty flavor, try these healthier alternatives:

  • Use real bacon bits – Sprinkling a small amount of real crumbled bacon provides fuller bacon flavor with less sodium and fewer artificial ingredients.

  • Make your own bacon seasoning – Mix smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, maple syrup, and pepper for a homemade bacon seasoning to sprinkle on foods.

  • Top with roasted chickpeas – Roasted, salted chickpeas provide crunch and nutty flavor that enhances salads.

  • Use whole foods like avocado or nuts – Avocado, walnuts, almonds, or pecans add healthy fats, crunch, and richness as a salad topping.

  • Opt for savory roasted veggies – Roasted broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or cauliflower make delicious salad toppers.

  • Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar – A good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar add flavorful fat and acidity to balance salad greens.

The Verdict on Imitation Bacon Bits

Imitation bacon bits shouldn’t be a daily staple in your diet due to the high sodium content and lack of nutrients. But when consumed occasionally and in moderation, they can be an acceptable way to add bacon flavor without all the fat of real bacon.

Still, it’s healthiest to get flavor from wholesome, nutritious ingredients

Don’t Buy Bacon Bits Again Until You Watch This


What are imitation bacon bits made out of?

So what are these bits actually made from? They’re basically just flavored soy protein chunks. The texturized soy flour gives that same meaty texture you get from tofu or textured vegetable protein. This is an easy (and most likely affordable) way to make a shelf-stable version of our favorite cured meat.

Are there any healthy bacon bits?

Coconut bacon bits are seen a wide range of vegan meals and have proven to be one of the best bacon substitutes we know of!

Is it bad to eat bacon bits?

Whether vegan- or omnivore-friendly, your store-bought bacon bits are pretty much guaranteed to contain highly processed ingredients. Wide Open Eats tested three popular brands and found that even Oscar Mayer’s “Real Bacon Bits” contained harmful ingredients despite its self-proclaimed authenticity.

Do bacon bits have MSG in them?

McCormick Culinary Bacon Flavored Bits are made with no MSG added.

Are imitation bacon bits vegan?

While imitation bacon bits are made of soy and are usually safe for vegans to eat, other varieties may actually contain bacon. It’s also worth noting that some of the types made of soy also include honey and real meat flavoring that make them non-vegan. Any bacon bits advertised as “real” are going to be made of actual pork.

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.

Are Oscar Mayer bacon bits bad for You?

Wide Open Eats tested three popular brands and found that even Oscar Mayer’s “Real Bacon Bits” contained harmful ingredients despite its self-proclaimed authenticity. At the very least, Oscar Mayer bacon bits contain cured pork meat.

Are bacon bits PETA-friendly?

Like a few other highly processed, unsuspecting foods ( Oreos, Swedish Fish, and Pillsbury Crescents, to name a few ), some bacon bits are PETA-friendly. Thanks to natural and artificial flavoring added to the soy protein that makes up the base of these bacon-y sprinkles, they taste like the real thing, sans piggies.

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