No matter how much you hate the idea of eating a saturated fat-filled slab of pig, the smell of bacon is enough to reduce even the hardiest wellness guru into a pool of saliva. Thick cut or streaky, smoked or unsmoked, a couple of slices of bacon in the morning is the GOAT (or PIG, I guess).
Now I’m going to ask you to dream the impossible. Imagine a world in which a healthier bacon exists. One where bacon still tastes incredibly delicious, but has much, much less fat? My friends, get ready to pinch yourselves, because you are not dreaming.
Welcome to the world where bacon isn’t as bad for you. Scientists from China and the UK claim to have genetically modified pigs who have 24 percent less fat in comparison to normal ones and the internet is sizzling.
The wonder team has inserted a gene into the animal’s genetic code, which means they can regulate their temperature by burning fat. While most pigs have a tendency to accumulate fat, a new study published in May 2017 found that the animals with the added gene tended to be leaner and have a decreased fat percentage, without increasing activity levels.
Think of it as one of those “wonder pills” you’d buy at Whole Foods. Key components in the pill help pre-amp metabolism and regulate digestion, and while you sit around going about your normal day, the pill is doing wonders for your body and before you know it, you’re a couple of pounds lighter.
Apply the same theory to the genetically-modified pig, and you’ll have leaner pigs in only a matter of time. I can’t help but imagine the pig then continues to follow its new found fitness goals, watching YouTube videos, really getting into paleo and posting squat and deadlift videos with ab-check snaps to PigInstagram. When he finally reaches his #goals, he’s chopped up for muscle food.
So far, the researchers have created 12 genetically modified pigs with 25 percent less fat than regular ones. And this is all down to the “uncoupling protein 1”, or UCP1. This protein plays a key role in breaking down brown adipose tissue, the type of fat crucial to losing weight.
This protein is something that a lot of mammals have but modern pigs, for various reasons, lack. This means they struggle to maintain stable body temperature, which can become an issue in the winter if they haven’t stored up enough fat.
The main aim of the modification is to help farmers raise pigs at a cheaper rate, hopefully reducing the number of piglets who die in the cold weather and improving animal welfare. The “reduced-fat” bacon yielded from the new breed of pig is just an added bonus.
If and when the new bacon comes to our shelves (and by extension your plates), make sure you aren’t chomping down too much of the stuff, and have it with something actually healthy to feel the full benefits. I say this, but it’ll be me having bacon sarnies every day when it comes out.