From bacon donuts to bacon-wrapped treats and even bacon festivals (yes, they’re a thing), we all know bacon is one of the most celebrated foods in America. However, a new study is urging us to simmer down on our bacon consumption after researchers discovered a link between this widely adored cured meat and dementia. Fortunately (and surprisingly), the research also serves up an interesting slice of hope for meat lovers.
A lot of low-carb and even clean-eating diets that have been popular in the past few years have given bacon lovers the green light to go hog wild. Bacon is versatile, easy to prepare, and delicious—but in a study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists in the U.K. have discovered a connection between this high-fat, high-sodium breakfast food and problems with cognition.
Scientists from the University of Leeds’s Nutritional Epidemiology Group looked at four years’ worth of data from a massive sample of nearly 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69. From this analysis, the research team discovered that individuals who eat 25 grams—or just under nine ounces—of processed meat each day are 44% more likely to develop dementia than those who don’t eat processed meat.
What’s the cause? With cardiovascular and blood pressure problems on our list of the dangerous side effects of deli meats, there’s a good bit of research indicating the lifestyle choices that affect the heart and blood pressure (hello, fat and salt) can negatively impact blood supply to the brain, which can impact our memory and cognition. The National Institute of Health even mentions past studies which found smoking and diabetes were similarly associated with dementia.
The U.K. study produced one piece of perhaps unexpected good news: processed meats like bacon might lead to a greater risk of dementia, but a diet that included unprocessed red meats (such as steak) actually managed to cut down that risk by approximately 19%.
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