For some people, bacon is a veritable obsession. We don't just want to eat it, we also want our cars to smell like it and our toothpaste to be flavoured with it. In fact, 43 percent of Canadians admitted in a 2010 survey that they'd choose bacon over sex. So what is it about this particular fatty cut of meat that is so addictive? The latest episode of AsapSCIENCE explores the very specific science that makes bacon so amazing.
To start with, let's be clear on what bacon actually is, because it changes slightly depending on the country you're in. In the US, bacon is made from the belly of a pig, while the UK uses a shoulder cut, and Canada uses the animal's loin. All up, roughly 11 percent of a pig's standard weight can be used for bacon.
Regardless of where your bacon comes from, it all has one thing in common - it's heavy on calories and saturated fat. As the boys from AsapSCIENCE show above, 100 grams of apples contain 55 calories, while the same weight of cooked bacon would contain a whopping 550 calories. And 68 percent of those come from fat.
But knowing all of that doesn't make us any less immune to bacon's lure, and this is where the chemistry comes in. When you start to cook bacon, the heat melts the fat and triggers a unique chemical reaction between the sugars and amino acids, which releases a medley of around 150 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.
These VOCs then reach our nose, and stimulate certain pathways in our brain, making our body physically crave the delicious meat.
But unfortunately the potential health risks of the meat don't just end at its fat content. Watch the episode above to find out more about the chemicals that make bacon what it is, and the foods you can eat alongside it to help mitigate the damage. And remember: all things in moderation.