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  • Nitrates

    Ok so I finally sourced some nearly pure meat sausages. They're 97% meat, along with some recognisable spices, but they also contain Nitrates which the label did flag up as a possible allergen for some people.

    What are Nitrates exactly and will eating these sausages a few times a week do me any harm?

  • #2
    Nitrates and nitrites are preservative compounds used to cure meats and fertilize crops. They're harmless in and of themselves, but they can potentially combine with amine groups (typically but not always from protein) to form nitrosamines, which cause cancer in large amounts in vitro.

    I'm personally a bit skeptical that they make a large difference in carcinogenesis since it takes quite a bit of them to induce a tumor, but I try to avoid them nonetheless just to play it safe until more science comes in.
    Give me liberty. Exploration of other options will be vigorously discouraged.

    Wondering something sciencey? Ask me in my Ask a Biochemist Thread


    • #3
      Be careful if you're trying to cut them out. Labels will often say that their product is all natural, but if you look you'll see celery juice/celery juice concentrate, which is a way of getting nitrites into the product without offending/alerting anyone. Kinda like "evaporated cane juice" is a way of getting sugar into a product without offending/alerting anyone.

      I make my own sausage. Look into grinders, or grinder attachments for appliances that you may already have.

      Given the choice between being tumor free and eating bacon, bacon is going to win with me every time.


      • #4
        this question recently came up with me too. I decided to just go for the regular cured bacon and ham. The "uncured" nitrite/nitrate free bacon and ham available in my area does have celery juice in it as well as evaporated cane juice. They also say smoked bacon or smoked ham, which as I understand it is part of the curing process?

        Either way, being in college and short on the finances, I couldn't justify the price with the amount of bacon that I eat.

        And the regular cured stuff I get has antioxidants (vitamin c/ascorbic acid) added which reduces the chances of nitrosamines forming. I think most cured meats have vitamin C added to counteract the formation of nitrosamines. Also just thinking about supplementing with a little vitamin C when I have my morning bacon, ham, and eggs.


        • #5
          Not to mention some of the bloating, water-retention, and possible headaches with ingested Nitrates. Some people with joint problems experience swelling, and consequently, increased pain in problem areas. Moderation should apply in this case, as many.
          Hope this helps!
          Be well!


          • #6
            Some info on Nitrates

            Nitrates are a natural byproduct of cooking over wood (which is how Grok cooked all his meat).

            You just don't want large quantities of added nitrates from unnatural sources
            Last edited by Tarlach; 04-02-2010, 12:13 AM.
            The "Seven Deadly Sins"

            Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
            Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
            Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)


            • #7
              There's always something, isn't there! Just when I thought I'd found a good sausage. They come in different flavours too, the ones with apple are delicious *sigh*.