Chicago Health | Homepage
Putting nitrates into perspective

Putting nitrates into perspective

By Densie Webb, Ph.D., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter

Nitrates in processed meats such as bacon, ham, deli meats, sausages and beef jerky have been scrutinized and vilified since the 1970s. Nitrates (in the form of sodium nitrate) are added to most processed meats to “cure” or preserve them, giving them their characteristic color and taste, while preventing contamination, particularly with the sometimes deadly Botulinum and Listeria bacteria. Yet the Environmental Working Group includes nitrates on its “Dirty Dozen” list of dangerous food additives. And the World Health Organization reports that consumption of processed meats, a source of nitrates, is strongly linked to cancer. Thus, the concern over nitrates has led to more meats labeled “no nitrates added.” Should you go nitrate-free?

Nitrate facts

Before reaching for that “no nitrate” product, here are a few things you should know first:

–You can’t completely avoid nitrates, since 80 percent of the nitrates in our diet come from vegetables, such as celery, greens, beets, parsley, leeks, cabbage, fennel and drinking water. Only about 6 percent come from cured meats.

–Vegetarian diets, which have been shown to be healthy, contain about four times more nitrates than a conventional diet.

–Nitrates themselves are not the problem; there is cause for concern only when they are converted by the body to . Nitrosamines have been identified as cancer-causing compounds.

–Meats, such as organic lunch meats, labeled “no nitrates added” are not actually nitrate-free. Instead of adding sodium nitrate, celery powder (naturally rich in nitrates) is typically used. However, even naturally occurring nitrates can be converted in the body to nitrosamines.

–Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables, help reduce the conversion of nitrates to nitrosamines. Some processed meats have vitamin C added (labeled “ascorbic acid”).

–While some previous studies have linked nitrates to certain forms of cancer, several recent studies, including one published in January 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have found that dietary nitrates may be beneficial by helping to lower blood pressure and prevent damage to arteries.

The bottom line

Without nitrates, bacon and ham would be an unappetizing gray color and lack that unique “cured” flavor. Choosing processed meat labeled “no added nitrates” doesn’t mean you’re avoiding nitrates; it simply means nitrate-rich celery powder has been substituted for sodium nitrate. Keep in mind that most processed meats are high in saturated fat and sodium, which everyone should limit, whether or not you choose no-nitrates-added meat.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)

(c) 2016 BELVOIR MEDIA GROUP. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Easy Tips for Anti-Inflammatory Eating, Plus a Chance to Win a $50 Gift Card to True Food Kitchen

Easy Tips for Anti-Inflammatory Eating, Plus a Chance to Win a $50 Gift Card to True Food Kitchen

By Eve Becker What do a new restaurant in River North, the anti-inflammatory diet and a

Slow Eating May Help You Consume Less and Lose Weight

Slow Eating May Help You Consume Less and Lose Weight

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN Slowing down can be a challenge in our fast-paced society, but

Not Drinking Enough Water? Bloated Belly and Sweet Cravings Can Result

Not Drinking Enough Water? Bloated Belly and Sweet Cravings Can Result

By Rhonda Alexander You know that you’re supposed to drink plenty of water every day, but

The MIND Diet

The MIND Diet

New eating approach can help your brain By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN  Your brain health is closely

Cultures for Health: The Benefits of Fermented Foods

Cultures for Health: The Benefits of Fermented Foods

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN For centuries, fermented foods have played a large role in many

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

January 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016
January 1, 2017 January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017 January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017
January 8, 2017 January 9, 2017 January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017 January 12, 2017 January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017
January 15, 2017 January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017 January 19, 2017 January 20, 2017 January 21, 2017
January 22, 2017 January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017 January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017
January 29, 2017 January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017 February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives