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Nitrates seem to have developed a bad rap in past years. We should be avoiding them at all cost right? Well… not necessarily. Not all nitrates are created equally…
Did you know that there are more nitrates naturally occurring in vegetables? That’s right! Nitrates are the product of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is that found in water, plants and animals. ALL living things.
Once Nitrates are introduced to our saliva they are converted to Nitrites. Of the Nitrates, 25% are converted to salivary Nitrites, 20% dietary Nitrites and the rest is excreted in the urine within 5 hours. Nitrates have a half-life of 5 minutes after being consumed. Thus, a majority of Nitrites within the body come from Saliva.
Our ancestors originally used small amounts of nitrates to cure their meats. Then, to produce high yields of these cured meats, faster and cheaper ways were discovered. This includes curing them with sodium nitrate, “liquid smoke” and MSG. Some are even machine pressed into uniform shape before packaging! Can you say YUCK!? These sloppy ways of curing meat created a bad rap, and rightfully so. Recently, you can find so-called “natural” ways of curing meats by means of celery salt. However, 40-90% of celery salt is converted into a nitrate during the curing process. So is this really a “healthier” way to cure meat?
Many sources also say that Nitric Oxide (NO) is beneficial for the cardiovascular system in that is decreases blood pressure and can lead to the prevention of clots within the arteries. NO deficiencies have been detected in many chronic diseases. So why are we trying to avoid them at all cost?
If you really want to avoid nitrites, you would have to stop eating entirely. You would have to say no to veggies, and you would definitely have to stop swallowing your saliva!