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Are Nitrates And Nitrites A Reason To Avoid Bacon?

Bacon has long been considered an unhealthy food choice due to the nitrates and nitrites that are used in the curing process.

Many will tell you that you are just asking to get cancer or drop dead from a heart attack by including bacon in your diet.

The idea that nitrates and nitrites are responsible for serious health issues has been entrenched in our consciousness, thanks to the media and many medical specialists loudly proclaiming that we are killing ourselves by eating bacon and therefore the nitrates and nitrites we are exposed to.

An early study linked nitrates to an increased risk of cancer scaring many. But that same study has since been discredited.

There have actually been a number of studies that have not been able to find a link between nitrates and nitrites and an increase in cancer in humans. In fact, the most recent studies suggest that nitrates and nitrates are harmless and they may actually prove beneficial to heart health and the immune system.

If you are confused, you aren’t alone.

Let’s look at why you should not worry about the nitrates and nitrites you are getting in your bacon.

Most Nitrates And Nitrites Are Produced By The Body

The majority of nitrate and nitrite doesn’t actually come from the food we eat but rather from endogenous sources. Your body produces greater amounts of nitrates/nitrates than you could ever get from the food you eat. Salivary nitrites make up 70-90 percent of your total nitrites. Your spit has more nitrites than any foods you eat.

Vegetables Are A High Source Of Nitrites

When it comes to the food we eat, vegetables are the main source of nitrites and we get around 93 percent from them. Here’s something shocking – four servings of beetroot or celery, or two servings of lettuce provide the equivalent amount of nitrites that you would get from eating 467 hotdogs.

So before you give up bacon or cured meats you might want to consider giving up celery. Even if nitrites are harmful, cured meats are not a major source.

Nitrates And Nitrites Don't Stay In Your Body

It is important to recognize that nitrates and nitrites don’t accumulate in your body. When you ingest nitrates in food and it comes in contact with your saliva, around 20 percent is converted to nitrite, 25 percent salivary nitrite, and the rest is excreted through your urine within 4 to 5 hours of ingesting.

Nitrates that are absorbed have a short life in the body.

Nitrates And Nitrates Are Not Carcinogenic

Nitrates and nitrites are actually not problematic and they may even have health benefits. The belief is that nitrates and nitrites are no longer considered to be carcinogenic. The latest published studies have not been able to link the intake of nitrates and nitrites in the diet with stomach cancer.
The bottom line is that if you like your bacon but you’ve been concerned about eating it because of the nitrates and nitrites, it seems you no longer have to worry. So tuck in!