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Why Some Nitrates Are Healthy While Others Are Harmful

healthy nitrates

Story at-a-glance -

  • Nitrate-rich plant foods are a valuable part of your diet as they help promote heart health. Meanwhile, the nitrates in cured and processed meats such as bacon and hotdogs are known to be carcinogenic
  • Nitrites from plants turn into beneficial NO due to the presence of antioxidants such as vitamin C and polyphenols
  • NO is a soluble gas, and while it’s a free radical, it’s also an important biological signaling molecule that supports normal endothelial function and protects your mitochondria
  • Dietary nitrates are converted into nitrites by oral bacteria. The nitrites are then converted into either nitric oxide (NO) or N-nitroso compounds when reacting with your stomach acid
  • Nitrites from processed meat turn into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds such as nitrosamines due to the presence of proteins and heme in the meat. Nitrates are also more prone to converting into carcinogenic nitrosamines when heated

By Dr. Mercola

Nitrate-rich plant foods are a valuable part of your diet as they help promote heart health. Meanwhile, the nitrates in cured and processed meats such as bacon and hotdogs are known to be carcinogenic. So, what’s the deal? Why are plant-based nitrates healthy and animal-based nitrates harmful? The answer to that question has to do with biochemistry — how the nitrates are processed in your body based on cofactors found in their source.


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