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Nitrates . . . Good or Bad?

So what are "Nitrates"? Well . . . Nitrate are natural chemicals that are found in the soil, air and water. Sounds simple enough . . . . right?

Nitrates are also used as a "food additive" (preservative) to stop the growth of bacteria and to enhance the flavor and color of foods. Okay . . . now this should have your attention!

We find these elements in cured meats, bacon, ham, salami, corned beef, hot dogs, pickled pig's feet, smoked salmon, dried fish, jerky, lunch meats and canned meat like vienna sausages and deviled ham to mention just a few.

So the only "good" part about nitrates are they fight harmful bacteria in ham, salami and other processed and cured meats . . . so at least we know we're not going to get sick from a bacteria or parasite in that meat.

But . . . the "bad" news is . . . nitrates have been found to increase our risk for heart disease and cancer. Sodium nitrates have been shown to damage our blood vessels, making our arteries more likely to harden and narrow leading to heart disease.

And under certain conditions in the human body . . . "nitrates" can damage cells and morph into molecules that cause "cancer"!

So as I said . . . these "nitrates" that we find in our soil, air and water are just part of mother nature and should be harmless to the human body. But . . . when we take "nitrates" and use them for "preservatives", it becomes a different story.

The key to this problem is this . . . Nitrates are relatively, inert, which means they're stable and unlikely to change and cause harm.

However . . . this is the important part . . . so listen up!

Bacteria in the mouth or enzymes in the body can "convert" them into an element that can be "harmful" to our health. Studies have shown that "high nitrate" intake can "increase the risk of developing "cancer".

Remember we spoke about "H. pylori" a few weeks ago . . . well, we all have a certain amount of this bacteria in our stomach on any normal given day . . . and this bacteria can convert nitrates into a compounds that can cause "stomach" cancer.

You see . . . nitrates can form "nitrosamines" in the body which can increase the risk of developing "thyroid" cancer, "ovarian" cancer and some studies even suggest "brain" cancer.

So how do we fix this problem of "nitrates"? Well, first stop eating the food I mentioned above.

Next . . . remember nitrates are in our soil naturally, so we can't eliminate "nitrate" all together because they're found in beet, celery, lettuce, radishes, spinach . . . the list goes on and on . . .

But . . . here we go . . . eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables actually lowers the risk of cancer. Cooking, boiling, steaming, broiling, baking and blanching all destroy the nitrates necessary for N-O production (we'll talk about Nitric Oxide on another day).

Eating a diet high in antioxidants, vitamin C and certain other vitamins can reduce the conversion of "nitrates" into "nitrosamines". Nitrosamines being a main "carcinogen" in tobacco smoke, bacon, hot dogs, processed meats, etc.

So eat your veggies people and stop eating food with preservatives!

As always, feel free to contact me here


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