Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

About Those Nitrates in Our Food

Your salad contains more nitrates than a bacon sandwich.

Scare stories assume that we humans accurately understand the natural world. But our knowledge is always incomplete. It’s always biased by beliefs that happen to be widely held.

What we currently consider ‘the truth,’ has a good chance of being dismissed as absurd a few generations from now. Here’s a startling example.

For years, we’ve been told to avoid eating processed meats such as bacon, hotdogs, and lunch meat (see herehere, herehere and here). Why? Because they contain nitrates, which are supposed to be bad for us.

Well, it turns out nitrates are abundant in many vegetables, including salad greens and celery. During an interview last year, food science professor Ruth MacDonald observed that:

“The acceptable daily intake of nitrate is in the range of about 260 mg for a 150-pound adult.”

“One hot dog has about 10 mg of nitrates…”

“…eating a cup of spinach provides nearly 140 mg of nitrates…”

MacDonald further explained that our bodies can’t tell the difference between nitrates that come from arugula and nitrates that come from ham:

Natural nitrates are really no different chemically than the nitrates used in food processing. The body sees them exactly the same…

Wow. I bet most people who conscientiously order a salad for lunch have no idea that the nitrate count in their own meal far exceeds the nitrate count of the person eating the pepperoni pizza across from them.

Read the full interview here.


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This entry was posted on September 9, 2019 by in health and tagged .
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