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I'd like to hear your views about nitrates that we consume

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
       I know that I certainly have my views on nitrates in things that we consume.  But for now I'd like to hear what some others have to say on the subject.  They say that in an average diet we get over 70% of our nitrates from vegetables, drinking water accounts for about 21% and 6% in meats.

   There's so much talk about nitrate-free meats, which most of them seem to be cured using celery juice...I just don't quite get it.

  dan
Edited by gonefishin - 3/14/10 at 11:13am
post #2 of 13
Your always going to have nitrates in everything that lives, and grows. The thing you want is natural nitrates. To make along story short, When it comes to animals, natural in, natural out. When the World is feeding people in masses, you will see more and more chemicals entering into our Eco system. I can't control how the world does thing, but I can control my small corner of it. We raise our own cattle on pasture, pigs, chickens, and grow our own 150' garden. Natural in, natural out. I grilled a few 80z fillets yesterday and i asked my 9yr old how they are, she said good Papa, I was happy to think I was giving her less, (of what ever the heck we are using to grow things now a days)....................Chef Bill
post #3 of 13
I agree with chefbillyb, my parents are lucky enough to be friends with a farmer that raises pigs, cattle, and duck, and also has various produce. Then, we have another organic farm that has the weirdest herbs and fruits and veggies ever. There's striped sage, passionfruit, molberrys, soursap, miracle berrys, various zucchinis, etc. Unfortunately, we don't know anyone that sells fresh fish, so we have to get that at the store
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
     If I owned any livestock, feed would certainly be one of the first considerations that I would give thought to...along with breed.  I also agree with growing fruits and vegetables with methods that are friendly to the environment.  To me...this just makes good sense.

   But there's a growing number of people who refuse to eat anything with nitrates in it.  This is certainly their choice...but my gosh.  You've got so many other avenues for nitrates (with some conversion) to enter your system is seems odd to address one method of entry (meats) and not many others.

   I would certainly agree with the words...natural in, natural out.  But one of the studies often mentioned when talking about nitrates are it's effects on infants <4months putting them at possible risk for toxicity (Methemoglobinemia).  While many of the studies on adults seemed to be difficult to draw a direct conclusion, the study on infants seemed to be more accepted as a direct cause for toxicity.  Yet the nitrate ingestion was from a natural form, contaminated water in the formula.  

    It seems as though most of our nitrate consumption gets excreted through our urine.  Others are excreted through saliva, though some is supposed to be consumed again.  There is also amounts that normally get converted from nitrates to nitrites in our body's.  I know that your better off safe, than sorry.  But nitrates can get converted to nitrites which can be converted to nitrosamine by natural methods.

   There are people looking for nitrate-free pancetta and bacon.  Is bacon or pancetta even bacon or pancetta if they haven't been cured?  If you don't want to take a chance consuming harmful nitrates in bacon then simply eat some cooked pork belly.  If your going to ignore all the large sources of nitrates, like many vegetables and water.  Then you certainly can't ignore other known sources for nitrosamine like beer, can you?  They say that nitrosamine intake has been reduced from 1 micorggram per/day to 0.1 microgram per/day by using better curing processes.  

   I'm sure I'm butchering the science here...but are a few slices of bacon, or pancetta in your sauce really going to have a significant effect when we're consuming nitrates elsewhere?


   go bacon!


  dan 
post #5 of 13
If you don't eat bacon or ham, then your nitrates is 60% coming from vegetables. If you eat meat with nitrates, then your total nitrates raises and normal background from plants is reduced to a small percentage.
The problem with nitratees on meat is not nitrate, as that is hard to believe is unhealthy as part of many biochemical reactions. The problem is nitrites. That is a much powerful preservative and commonly added with nitrates as preservative for meat.
Here in europe the label always tells you which preservative is used. If I see nitrites I don't buy it.
Nitrates in water are a sign that the water does not have a long filter. Nitrate is blocked in the filtering part of a spring and good waters contain no nitrates.
post #6 of 13
What I'm about to post is not Politically Correct..

Quote:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  "Jesus"

While, the desire to eat healthy is important to the daily quality of life, I know I have an appointment that I will not miss, and whatever I do will not add or subtract from that appointment.  As a foodie who enjoys cooking as a hobby, it is nothing more than a way to pass time enjoyably.  If I had the means to take my food fancies to the next logical level, all or most natural, I would consider it.  But it wouldn't be any more critical to my life than if my hobby was painting and I moved from painting inside my home to an outside scenic setting.  However my painting might be more inspired.
post #7 of 13
I can buy that about nitrates in water concerning infants.  I have tested my tap water in various places I've lived and found nitrates every time.  When on city water, they send out annual reports and it also shows the nitrate levels.  Other than bacon, we don't eat many processed meats so  I don't really worry about it.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuscan Chef View Post

If you don't eat bacon or ham, then your nitrates is 60% coming from vegetables. If you eat meat with nitrates, then your total nitrates raises and normal background from plants is reduced to a small percentage.
The problem with nitratees on meat is not nitrate, as that is hard to believe is unhealthy as part of many biochemical reactions. The problem is nitrites. That is a much powerful preservative and commonly added with nitrates as preservative for meat.
Here in europe the label always tells you which preservative is used. If I see nitrites I don't buy it.
Nitrates in water are a sign that the water does not have a long filter. Nitrate is blocked in the filtering part of a spring and good waters contain no nitrates.


  Hi Tuscan Chef,

   Please bear with me here....



    Every study that I've read (including European studies) mention that a persons normal diet would get nitrate levels either 70% coming from vegetables, 20% from water and 6% from cured meats or 90% from vegetables and other sources then 10% from cured meats...or somewhere in between thos two.

   From the reading that I've done any form of nitrate can be converted to nitrite by a few different means, such as certain microorganisms in the food (which can be promoted by improper storage of vegetables) and also the gastrointestinal tract can also convert the nitrates.  Although the acidic enviroment of the adult stomach is said to reduce the chance of nitrates converting into nitrites.

  The problem with cured meats doesn't seem to be nitrates or nitrites as much as nitrosamines (or when nitrosamines form).  Nitrosamines have been linked to causing cancer in some lab animals (but not of yet linked to causing cancer in adults).  Not all cured meats contain nitrosamines, and when they do it's in very minute amounts.  Plus there seems to be other ingredients that have been being used to greatly reduce the chance of nitrites converting to nitrosamines, such as adding ascorbic acid  (vitamin C) or eyrthorbic acid.  These are said to be used for more than the last 20 years.  

   It's also mentioned that the chances formation of nitrosamines  start and increase when cooking at temperatures > 350f. The nitrosamine also increased when bacon was cooked to a well done or burnt.  The bacon drippings from well done and burnt bacon also contained more nitrosamines than the bacon itself.

  Nitrosamines are supposed to occur very rarely in cured meats, except in well done or burnt bacon.  

Quote:
   The thesis also shows that the bacteria in the oral cavity are very important to the process of nitrates in food protecting the stomach's mucous membrane. This has been examined in that rats have been given nitrate-rich feed, whereby some of them have also simultaneously received an antibacterial oral spray. When these rats were then given anti inflammatory drugs, damage to the mucous membrane only occurred in the ones that had received the oral spray. In the latter the nitrates no longer had a protective effect on the mucous membrane, as the oral spray had killed the important bacteria that normally convert nitrates into nitrites.


        dan
post #9 of 13
 Adding nitrite to meat is only part of the curing process. Ordinary table salt (sodium chloride) is added because of its effect on flavor. Sugar is added to reduce the harshness of salt. Spices and other flavorings often are added to achieve a characteristic "brand" flavor. Most, but not all, cured meat products are smoked after the curing process to impart a smoked meat flavor.

Adding nitrate closely relative to nitrite is good to food as a form of preservation. But we all know it's long term effect. We are the one to decide on what will be good for us. To preserve? or not?
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeMadeCook View Post

 
Adding nitrate closely relative to nitrite is good to food as a form of preservation. But we all know it's long term effect. We are the one to decide on what will be good for us. To preserve? or not?

     What's the long term effect that you're talking about?  

    Is it the study of nitrate toxicity in infants < 4 months or the study that linked the lab animals to developing cancer when exposed to nitrites?  A study on humans?


  All the articles that I've read (recent or old) usually reference the same material.  The one about the lab animals developing cancer does have other factors involved.  I'd love to read any new studies.  

   dan

    
post #11 of 13
It's a set of interesting questions, but are there any Chef Talkers really qualified to address them?  For that matter, is anyone? 

It's an extremely complicated subject, one in which both chaos and complexity play important roles. 

It's not easy to make sense of the studies either.  For one thing, it's hard to isolate all the variables. Worse, is a single axis study even valid?  We don't live and eat in a single axis world.  For instance, what are the long-term effects of substantial amounts of nitrate/nitrite cured meat in a diet which also includes a substantial amount of vitamin C?    

The epidemiology of nutrition "science" is often highly inexact.  That's why you have questions.  I'm very skeptical of facile answers which come from people who don't have enough statistics to even evaluate the studies -- much less the cellular biology.  That goes double for "health" people.

BDL
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post #12 of 13
Good discussion. I still circle back to moderation in these situations. Sure, I would like to raise my own cattle and pigs and such, not going to happen for me. when I can I buy no-nitrate sausage for my little girl. Doesn't mean I won't eat some of the nitrate-containing stuff if it is on the menu. Maybe it's not the most considered way to go, but I guess I'm only willing to spend so much time on each of these many food issues.
post #13 of 13

I'm aware of the high rise in nitrates in our food since we started eating in fast food chains and pumping ourselves full of highly processed food. It beggars belief that we can allow this to be done to us. But the manufacturers make it so blooming attractive dont they. Never mind the alziemers etc.
It's not just nitrates, what about phosphates??? The sh*t they spray on root crops is harming the folk who live near the fields.So what the he*l is it doing to the consumers.

My only answer to the dilema is to eat organic. I'm lucky that can afford to. But so many folk cant and they are the ones who will suffer.

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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