Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nitrates in food...why you should care (or shouldn't?)

Yesterday I was in the grocery store browsing the food to see what was on sale. More and more I'm getting frustrated with the local grocery store that I've been going to. I'll get on more of why later. However...I noticed something while there today. In their lunch meat sections they had lunch meat labeled, nitrate free. So I read the fine print of some of there meats, and I see Sodium Nitrate, and Sodium Nitrite (note the difference). I'm baffled. Why should I care about Nitrates?

I began my research on why I should care, what is it doing to my body?. Well, first warning I read was that babies metabolize nitrates differently then I do. You can read more about it in the link if you want, but in summary babies under six months of age shouldn't eat processed meats, or cheeses that could have added nitrates in them. Quite frankly though, babies under six months shouldn't have anything but breast milk. Just sayin.

Some researchers believe that too much nitrite in the system (your body turns nitrates into nitrites), can be cancerous.  Although that research hasn't been completely supported by whatever government body needs to support it to be credible.

So why is it there? It's a preservative. It retains the color, wards off bad smell, and prevents the growth of botulism.  There's a lovely thought.  Now, is this on my list of things I won't eat.  Not entirely.  I won't go nutso with this one yet.  I will for my kids, but for myself I"ll keep it on the every now and then it won't kill me list.  They can make their own decisions about what they eat when they're older.

Here's another helpful link.

What are your thoughts?


  1. My mother warns against nitrates, too. I generally think of them being in hot dogs and I RARELY eat hot dogs. So I don't sweat it. That said, I do eat lunch meat from time to time so I'm probably eating nitrates there.

    I'm right there with you on the 6 month thing, too. Even if your baby WAS ready for solid food before the 6 month mark... are you really going to start them on processed meat?!

  2. I know I got pretty opinionated in that statement, but I had to say it. I guess there are still parents who put soda in the baby bottle and let them pour cheese whiz in their mouths. Eek, I must be in a mood. ;)



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