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Nitrates

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Nitrates

What are nitrates…and why are they bad for you?

It seems like everyone’s avoiding nitrates nowadays.

Your friend packs nitrate-free turkey breast sandwiches in her kids’ lunches. Dad cooks up nitrate-free hot dogs at the family barbecue. Maybe you’ve even started avoiding nitrates, because clearly there’s something dangerous about them. But what are nitrates exactly, and why are they bad for you?

Nitrates Defined

Nitrates are chemical compounds found naturally in foods like beets, celery, lettuce, radishes, spinach, dairy products, beef, poultry and fish. Your body even produces some of it’s own nitrates naturally.

At the right doses, natural nitrates can lower blood pressure, reduce your risk for heard disease and stroke. They can even give you more endurance when you exercise and boost your muscle strength.

Unfortunately, nitrates are also frequently added to packaged meats to give them color and increase their shelf life – and this is where nitrates become deadly.

Why nitrates in packaged meats are bad for you

Added nitrates (such as those found in processed meats) differ from natural nitrates because of the way your body processes them: by converting them into carcinogenic compounds called “nitrosamines”.

Nitrosamines form when nitrates are exposed to super high heats, especially when they’re combined with amino acids. Meat products are a natural source of amino acids, plus they’re cooked at much higher temps than vegetables. All of these variables create the perfect variables for nitrosamines to form.

Unlike jerky, biltong isn’t cooked at high heats and has absolutely no nitrates whatsoever! Save yourself and your loved ones some heartache and choose biltong instead – it’s the healthiest, tastiest snack on earth.

Sources:

  1. The Truth about Nitrates — Dietitians of Canada.
  2. Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  3. Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis — Journal of Nutrition.
  4. Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite — Hypertension.
  5. Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial — Nutrition Journal.
  6. Effects of dietary nitrate on oxygen cost during exercise — Acta Physiologica.
  7. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans — Cell Metabolism.
  8. Nitrate Intake Promotes Shift in Muscle Fiber Type Composition during Sprint Interval Training in Hypoxia — Frontiers in Physiology.
  9. Dietary Nitrates, Nitrites, and Nitrosamines Intake and the Risk of Gastric Cancer: A Meta-Analysis — Nutrients.
  10. The use and control of nitrate and nitrite for the processing of meat products — Meat Science.
  11. Formation and occurrence of nitrosamines in food — Cancer Research.
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