Is Bacon Safe for Your Baby?
May 9, 2019
Bacon, salami, sausages, sandwich meat… All delicious sources of protein, right? But in excess, they can have consequences for you and your baby’s health.
What are the health issues with cured meats?
All cured meats, such as sausages and bacon, are prepared in similar ways. That involves curing the meat with smoke and/or other preservatives. So there are several reasons to eat cured meats in moderation.
• Eat less meat. Most Americans eat way more than the recommended amount of meat each week. Try to reduce your meat consumption – especially red meat or fatty cuts, which are often used in cured meats.
• Eat less salt. One of the most common “curing” ingredients is salt. It’s a powerful natural preservative. However, if you eat too much, it can affect your blood pressure and heart health.
• Avoid nitrates and nitrites. Many cured meat manufacturers also use nitrates and nitrites. If you eat these in very high quantities, they could cause an increased risk of cancer.
Babies and very young children don’t have fully developed bodies – so it’s even more difficult for them to handle unhealthy foods. So all the risks of high salt and high nitrates are much worse for them.
What is blue baby syndrome?
The high salt levels are already a good reason to leave cured meats out of your baby’s diet. But there is another, equally serious, risk.
If babies have very high levels of nitrites and nitrates in their bodies, they can develop a disease called methemoglobinemia. It’s also known as blue baby syndrome, because a lack of oxygen in the blood makes the baby’s skin appear blue or purple.
Blue baby syndrome is usually a result of polluted water. You would have to eat a lot of sausages to get the same nitrate levels! But it’s still a good idea to avoid foods with lots of preservative chemicals, and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables with lots of healthy anti-oxidants.