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Are you concerned that your ordinary supermarket bacon is cured with Nitrates & Nitrites that you ingest?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 20, 2011 at 11:27 PM

A while back, this posting regarding Dr Oz and a guest he had on in which she pointed out that eating cured smoked meats with nitrites and nitrates which change to nitrosomines can lead to atrophy of the brain and alzheimer's disease.

http://paleohacks.com/questions/32511/is-alzheimers-disease-really-diabetes-of-the-brain#axzz1K6lEgX6S

However, when I went looking for documentation regarding ageing and telomeres, I ran across another researcher that lays out a rather confounding situation... good nitrates on the one hand and bad nitrates on the other. What is a bacon eater to do?

Every great once in a while mainline medical advice reverses itself about something important ??? what was bad becomes good or what was good becomes bad. That happened with Vitamin D in recent years when stern warnings never to exceed 400IU a day gave way to recommendations that it is good for older people to take anywhere up to 4,000IU per day. A reversal may now be taking place having to do with whether nitrates and nitrites lead to cancers and Alzheimer???s Disease and are therefore bad for you, or whether they have great cardiovascular effects and are therefore good for you. There is controversy about this, clashing and clanging of gears as contradictory health advice is commonly given.
The issue at hand is whether it is good or bad for your health to consume foods containing high amount of nitrates and nitrites, foods like processed meats and certain supplements like beet root juice. The controversy extends to whether the large quantities of nitrates used in mass-scale agriculture constitutes a public health hazard because of contamination of public water supplies with nitrates. Is this good or bad for public health? This Part 1 blog entry presents the research case against consumption of nitrites and nitrites. A following Part 2 blog entry presents the research case in favor of consumption of nitrites and nitrites. I added some additional citations here on January 10, 2010.

Part 1 The Bad Side

http://anti-agingfirewalls.com/2011/01/09/nitrates-and-nitrites-%e2%80%93-part-1-bad-for-you/

Part 2 The Good Side

http://anti-agingfirewalls.com/2011/01/10/nitrates-and-nitrites-%e2%80%93part-2-good-for-you/

What do you think? Will you continue to eat supermarket bacon drenched in sodium nitrates or will you stop and go search for uncured bacon and other meats? Or will you continue to eat the supermarket bacon because of the benefical effects of the nitrites and nitrates?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 08, 2011
at 07:34 PM

Wait, so HFCS and propylene glycol and sucralose are old fashioned now? Wow! I don't want to know what's new fashioned at all.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 02:27 PM

yes, isn't it delightful though that they threw in some sugar, then some HFCS, then some maple syrup and then decided "you know what we need?, lets add a bit of regular corn syrup and a dash of sucralose on there too!"? Delish!

88905cfc5bb098ad3830671a1af373a8

(803)

on April 21, 2011
at 10:44 AM

you should note that 'corn syrup' without the 'high fructose' prefix should refer to a syrup that is all or nearly all glucose.

88905cfc5bb098ad3830671a1af373a8

(803)

on April 21, 2011
at 10:44 AM

you should note that 'corn syrup' without the "high fructose' prefix should refer to a syrup that is all or nearly all glucose.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 05:03 AM

aha, thanks. thats the distinction i was looking for. I was under the incorrect assumption that the current nitrate compounds used today were the traditional ones. Didn't realize Potassium Nitrate was the original saltpeter. Just looked at the "prague Powder" i bought to try some homemade cured meat (haven't used it yet) and it's Sodium Nitrate, not Potassium.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 21, 2011
at 04:05 AM

Here's the exact verbiage text from Wiki: *"In the process of food preservation, potassium nitrate has been a common ingredient of salted meat since the Middle Ages, but its use has been mostly discontinued due to inconsistent results compared to more modern nitrate and nitrite compounds."* Stephan's thoughts on that: *"saltpeter is K nitrate and not Na nitrate... this is a leading hypothesis of why there's an association between processed meat and gastric cancer. I think it's plausible."* Saltpeter is Potassium Nitrate, btw.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 02:15 AM

well thats helpful! So, when it comes to cured meats intended to eat cold, such as salami etc, the nitrates would be relatively benign? I'm not sure I understand this sentence though? Would you mind please clarifying? "Back in the day, meat was preserved with salt, and potassium nitrate was a common ingredient, but not anymore with the current nitrate and nitrite solutions being used to cure meat."

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 21, 2011
at 02:13 AM

but guys there is a difference between isolated sodium nitrite and that in vegetables.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:54 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't you cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to weigh through the good and bad links...especially the good?

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:53 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to weigh through the good and bad links...especially the good?

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:51 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to way through the good and bad links...especially the good?

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:50 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. We you able to way through the good and bad links?

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:38 AM

continued: I guess my point is are they discussing the average product in supermarkets? Cause I wouldn't eat that stuff. Its a total PITA to try to describe an optimal diet to SAD eating extended family but then have to asterisk every piece of meat in the supermarket.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:35 AM

well, even whole meat can include these things. Certainly ham, particularly brined, turkey too, bacon is generally cured with something sweet as well as salty, so HFCS is used in large commercial production. Here are the ingredients for the hillariously named "Farmer John Old Fashioned Maple Bacon" (note the double use of corn syrup) Cured with water and less than 1% of salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol, sodium phosphates, maple syrup, sodium erythorbate, natural and artificial maple flavor, corn syrup, caramel color, sucralose, sodium nitrite.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:21 AM

I think all the linked research is talking about processed meat only that is not reconstituted meat made into hot dogs, or sausages, brats with the items you mention. Think smoked cured bacon, ham, turkey, chicken. I used to eat sausage pre paleo but stopped after reading the label about exactly what you point out.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:12 AM

the thing that bugs me is the umbrella use of "processed meats", Additives in meats vary widely and include (though i'm sure you already know this) soy, msg, (HF) corn syrup, sugar among others.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on April 20, 2011
at 11:39 PM

Yah....that guy is the biggest joke on t.v.

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7 Answers

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5
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:45 AM

I am more comfortable with a tad bit of sugar than I am with nitrates. 0g sugar on the label means less than .5g threshold per serving. I'm pretty sure there's not much to worry about there.

Stephan Guyenet did a great write up on nitrates last year, and touched on the fact that vegetables have significant levels of nitrates. His conclusion was that nitrates may actually be beneficial, which I believe could be true.

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/06/nitrate-protective-factor-in-leafy.html

But with regard to processed meats and particularly bacon, the devil is in the details. Nitrates combined with protein become nitrosamines when heated to high temperatures, especially in the absense of VitC. This is problematic because nitrosamines are linked to high rates of cancer in animals and meats cured with sodium nitrate has been found to have more than 10x the safe limit of nitrosamines, which is stored in the fat by the way.

Back in the day, meat was preserved with salt, and potassium nitrate was a common ingredient, but not anymore with the current nitrate and nitrite solutions being used to cure meat. K and Na in body can therefore be thrown out of balance. But veggies are low in protein and usually contain VitC. This is why frying bacon is not the same as eating raw or even cooked vegetables and/or diverse salads.

Cooking bacon and avoiding the conversion of nitrates to nitrosamines simultaneously is probably not a very easy or even likely goal to attain. So you want to cook bacon on low-med heat, never cook bacon 'to a crisp' even though people love it this way because it 'glazes'. Also, the other reason (which is just a bonus side note) is that bacon does actually contain some pufa (about one sixth of baconfat is pufa).

So to bring this full circle, at this point, I'm more comfortable with .5g of sugar than nitrosamines.

*Forgot to mention one last thing... some brands intentionally add a form of VitC to the curing solution. This may inhibit the formation of nitrosamines, but I still am a little wary of whether the effectiveness of the added ascorbic acid is sufficient. Seems a bit like a physics experiment to me.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:54 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't you cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to weigh through the good and bad links...especially the good?

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:50 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. We you able to way through the good and bad links?

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:53 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to weigh through the good and bad links...especially the good?

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 02:15 AM

well thats helpful! So, when it comes to cured meats intended to eat cold, such as salami etc, the nitrates would be relatively benign? I'm not sure I understand this sentence though? Would you mind please clarifying? "Back in the day, meat was preserved with salt, and potassium nitrate was a common ingredient, but not anymore with the current nitrate and nitrite solutions being used to cure meat."

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 21, 2011
at 04:05 AM

Here's the exact verbiage text from Wiki: *"In the process of food preservation, potassium nitrate has been a common ingredient of salted meat since the Middle Ages, but its use has been mostly discontinued due to inconsistent results compared to more modern nitrate and nitrite compounds."* Stephan's thoughts on that: *"saltpeter is K nitrate and not Na nitrate... this is a leading hypothesis of why there's an association between processed meat and gastric cancer. I think it's plausible."* Saltpeter is Potassium Nitrate, btw.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:51 AM

Nice posting Jack. I did not see it when orig posted. Why don't cut and paste that here by editing your post? Thanks.. Were you able to way through the good and bad links...especially the good?

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 21, 2011
at 05:03 AM

aha, thanks. thats the distinction i was looking for. I was under the incorrect assumption that the current nitrate compounds used today were the traditional ones. Didn't realize Potassium Nitrate was the original saltpeter. Just looked at the "prague Powder" i bought to try some homemade cured meat (haven't used it yet) and it's Sodium Nitrate, not Potassium.

5
3a833804187fe8926214e6c0bd8a0766

(1023)

on April 20, 2011
at 11:43 PM

If we're talking about sodium nitrate, I get way, way more from the spinach salad I eat almost every day than I do from the two pieces of bacon I may have with breakfast:

http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/07/does-banning-hotdogs-and-bacon-make.html

4
2c3a4e438d71775f45e98d1334b4e8d4

(495)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:23 AM

Ditto what everyone's said: there are WAY MORE nitrates in a salad than in your bacon.

Another side effect of the "OMG nitrates are bad, boycott teh bacon" bandwagon is that this is causing a lot of people to refuse to purchase conventionally cured meats with regulated amounts of sodium nitrate, and instead purchase "naturally cured" or misleadingly-labeled "uncured" meats that are packaged in a solution of celery juice or other natural, unregulated vegetable nitrate source. Cook's Illustrated sent samples of these "natural" meats to their lab, and found that their nitrate levels were as high, and often much much higher, than the conventionally cured meats. It was one of those cases where the lab came back with the opposite results from what they'd expected.

1
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 20, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Many vegetables have quite a bit of nitrite, and yet nobody appears to be dropping dead from celery. Why? There may be a mitigating effect on the conversion to n-nitroso compounds by vitamin c http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1985394

So my question would be is separate vitamin c in the meal protective against the negative effects? A typical breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast contains little vitamin c and few people seem to combine such a sinful meal (by conventional wisdom standards) with fruit or vegetables because those eating eggs and bacon aren't going to tend to be health-conscious and make an effort to eat such foods. So we really can't extrapolate data from the general population to all cases yet.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 21, 2011
at 02:13 AM

but guys there is a difference between isolated sodium nitrite and that in vegetables.

0
5bccbf50a074175a5371b135311ebff2

(283)

on April 21, 2011
at 01:54 AM

lb for lb, uncured bacon is less expensive here if I get it from the butcher at whole foods, than from Oscar Meyer or Farmer John. Albeit only by a couple of cents or dimes for pound, thats reason enough for me to go for the celery juice

0
0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943

(1354)

on April 21, 2011
at 12:14 AM

I just stay away from it, because so much says that nitrates cause cancer. We ordered 1/2 a pig last year and got plenty of bacon. We took it to a processor that did not use them. The BEST bacon ever. We also have a local source for nitrate free bacon when ours ran out. Waiting on our next feeder pig!

0
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 20, 2011
at 11:32 PM

well, if a guest on the esteemed Dr. Oz show said it.... :)

edit: well, i actually think this is a fine question. i love cured meats, and i've been wondering about the real dangers/safety of nitrates myself. Though I'll admit I just skimmed the links it seemed like cooking nitrate cured meat was a big part of the issue, no? Most of the cured meats I eat are never cooked , and bacon isn't a huge part of my diet. Should I be worried if the jury's still out? I'd like to think the positive steps I take in my diet will be protective enough to offset a bit of bacon.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on April 20, 2011
at 11:39 PM

Yah....that guy is the biggest joke on t.v.

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