At a girls breakfast the other weekend, I was telling one of my friends (who also avoids grains, dairy and legumes) about some awesome bacon I found at the market. We both seek out bacon sourced from free-range pork, but this recent find of mine was free-range and nitrate free (I tastes AMAZING).
After gushing over this breakfast staple, I failed to consider my friend’s perspective on Nitrates. She did not have a clear understanding of what nitrates are nor what they mean for our health. So allow this post be an opportunity for me to geek out on bacon, I mean nitrates…
Nitrates are produced for use as fertilizers because of their high solubility and biodegradability. Common forms include: ammonium, sodium, potassium, and calcium salts. In the food supply, nitrates are used to preserve food. They can be found in drinking water, meat and produce (fruit/veg).
What Are Some of the Health Risks in Consuming Foods with Nitrates?
Nitrates have been studied for decades and overall claims have not been substantiated. However, the lack of data does not let me bat an eye at munching away on Nitrates. Nitrates themselves are not know to be harmful but when heated and converted into nitrites, some health risks have been observed:
- Cancer Risk – nitrites can form into carcinogens when heated. The carcinogens can increase the risk of oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain cancer.
- Pregnancy Risk – research has shown women who consume large amount of nitrates have a higher risk of nueral defects.
- COPD – increase the chance of lung disease.
Kelly, What Do I Do?
I recommend taking this research with a grain of salt. Eating PERFECTLY is not good for you and it is hard to watch for every questionable ingredient in our food supply. However, seek out nitrate/nitrite-free cured meats, shop as closely as you can with the Dirty Dozen guideline in-minds, and continue to eat a variety of foods.
Cheers to you and good health! If you need any help, that is what I am here for.