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Beware of ‘Nitrate-Free’ Organic Cured Meats

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

celery powder nitrates

Story at-a-glance -

  • Nitrates and nitrites are used to cure (preserve) processed meats of all kinds, and studies have repeatedly found they raise your risk of colorectal cancer, even at relatively small amounts
  • Processed or cured meats (either conventional or organic) labeled as “no nitrates or nitrites added,” “no nitrite” or “uncured,” are not a healthier option, as they are simply cured with nitrite-rich celery powder
  • Most organic processed meats (whether labeled nitrite-free or not) are cured using nonorganic celery powder. The problem is that part of the technique used to produce conventional celery powder is extra loading of nitrogen fertilizer which the celery plant is very adept at taking up
  • The nitrate loading makes conventional celery powder a very rich source of nitrate — far richer than organic celery powder. Organic celery powder is not nitrate-rich enough to be able to replace nonorganic celery powder
  • In addition to synthetic fertilizer, nonorganic celery powder may also contain traces of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. For these reasons, organic leaders believe celery powder must be taken off the organic exemption list

For many years now, I’ve written about the health hazards posed by cured meats, which are high in nitrates. As explained in “Top 9 Reasons to Optimize Your Nitric Oxide Production,” not all dietary nitrates are the same.

While nitrates from plant foods promote beneficial nitric oxide production in your body, processed meats trigger conversion of nitrates into carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. Nitrates from plants turn into beneficial nitric oxide due to the presence of antioxidants such as vitamin C and polyphenols, which are absent in processed meats.

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