How Bad Are Nitrates in Food?


Nitrates are a group of chemical compounds that contribute to the color of meats and vegetables. They also play a role in the production of nitric oxide, which is a gas important in regulating blood pressure.

Nitrites are used to enhance the color of food, but they can also be toxic and cause breathing problems if you have high levels or have had a reaction before. Nitrates in food come from natural sources such as vegetables, meat, and water.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nitrates found in vegetables are safe for human health. Their foods guidelines state that nitrate values should not exceed 100 milligrams per liter of water or 3 milligrams per kilogram of food intake for consumers who do not suffer from any illnesses other than pregnancy.

What are Nitrates and How Do They Affect the Body?

Nitrates, also known as nitrites and nitrosamines, are found in many processed foods. The chemical is often used to preserve meat and stop bacteria from growing. However, high concentrations of nitrates can cause stomach cancer in humans.

Nitrates are found in processed meats like hot dogs and cured sausages. These meats are often made with water, sodium or phosphate salts that can lead to a higher concentration of the chemical.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set safe limits for nitrate levels in drinking water at 10 parts per billion (ppb). This is because high concentrations of the chemical have been linked to stomach cancer in humans.

Nitrates help the body produce nitric oxide, which is a chemical compound that relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart. Nitric oxide also helps prevent clotting of blood cells and lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Too many nitrates, however, may lead to health problems. If they build up in the body over time they may cause some side effects including nausea, vomiting, headaches and stomach pain.

How to Choose the Best Nitrate-Free Food for You

Nitrates are also known as nitrites and are natural compounds used to preserve food. Nitrates occur naturally in soil, water, and plant roots and the body uses them for the synthesis of nitric oxide which is a signaling molecule for cardiovascular health.

Nitrate-Free Foods

Some foods which can be harmful if eaten in large quantities include:

• Sauerkraut

• Bacon

• Smoked or cured fish (like smoked salmon)

• Pickled vegetables (like sauerkraut or pickles)

• Canned vegetables (like green beans)

With the rise of food allergies and intolerance, finding nitrate-free food has become a necessity. Choosing the best nitrate-free food can be a difficult task for those who do not have any idea about what to look for.

Nitrates are found in many processed foods and are considered unsafe when consumed regularly. The good news is that it is easy to find nitrate-free options in literally every aisle of your local grocery store.

One of the easiest ways to identify foods that you can eat without worrying about harm from chemicals like nitrates is by checking the list of ingredients on a package or product’s label. As long as you see no added nitrates, then you know it’s safe!

What Makes a Food Safe from Nitrates

Nitrates are commonly found in vegetables, fruits, and meats. They are used to produce nitrites which is a common preservative in many processed foods.

Nitrates are often found in food and can cause nitrite poisoning. Nitrites are toxic to the body and may lead to methemoglobinemia, methemoglobinemia happens when too much nitrate is ingested and the oxygen is not delivered to the bloodstream.

There are many good foods that contain nitrates such as vegetables, fruits, and meats. But these types of foods should be eaten in moderation because they can also cause methemoglobinemia.

Nitrates are also found in some bad foods that should be avoided like hot dogs, sausage, bacon and processed meat products.

So what makes food safe from Nitrates? Well, a number of things such as acidity levels, salt content and age make the difference between good and bad foods with Nitrates.

Foods that have high levels of nitrate should be avoided by adults who can have increased risk of developing methemoglobinemia from nitrate exposure. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meats with small amounts of processed foods that contains nitrate is recommended for healthy kids and adults.

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