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Healthy Breakfast: Bacon vs. Sausage


While bacon and sausage are both a source of protein (a key component of any healthy breakfast), these two foods are generally not considered healthy. However, certain types of bacon and breakfast sausage are healthier than others.

Calorie Content

Both regular bacon and sausage are fairly high in calories, which can be detrimental if you're trying to maintain or achieve a healthy weight. A slice of pan-fried cured bacon contains 54 calories, and one pan-fried sausage link contains 75 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database.

However, choosing turkey substitutes or vegetarian options instead helps cut calories at breakfast. A slice of microwaved turkey bacon contains just 30 calories, and one turkey sausage link contains 66 calories. Meatless bacon provides just 16 calories per strip, and meatless sausage contains 64 calories per link, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Saturated Fat and Sodium

Both regular bacon and breakfast sausage are sources of saturated fat and cholesterol -- and are high in sodium. Therefore, these two breakfast foods can increase your risk for high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease when eaten in excess. While turkey bacon and turkey sausage are generally lower in saturated fat, these processed meats are still high in sodium. Look for reduced-sodium varieties of bacon and breakfast sausage. If you choose meatless bacon or meatless breakfast sausage, you'll cut calories, eliminate dietary cholesterol, and be getting almost no saturated fat.

Nitrate Concerns

Bacon and sausages are commonly cured, meaning they contain nitrates or nitrites as preservatives. The American Cancer Society reports that these two compounds may increase your risk for cancer, and that higher intakes of processed meats are associated with higher rates of colon cancer. Therefore, uncured bacon or sausages may be healthier options, although such foods might be more difficult to find at your local supermarket.

Bottom Line

Because they are high in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and nitrates, regular bacon and breakfast sausages are generally not the healthiest breakfast option. Choosing uncured, reduced-sodium bacon or sausage -- or meatless products -- is much healthier, but these foods often taste different than regular bacon and sausage. Heart-healthy, protein-rich alternatives include egg whites, black beans, tofu, low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein-rich smoothies, nuts and seeds.


Fact or Fiction: Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as and

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