Health Warning: Beware of Nitrates (and be assured the Co-op Doesn’t Have Them!)

Health Warning: Beware of Nitrates (and be assured the Co-op Doesn’t Have Them!)

by: Troy Bond

A recent medical study will give you one more reason to shop the Co-op’s meat cooler and freezer. Three debilitating diseases– Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, and Parkinson’s–are now strongly linked to the consumption of processed foods containing nitrates and nitrites, two chemicals that are not added to any foods sold at the Co-op.

A July 2009 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease linked a diet rich in nitrates to increased nitrosamine production in the body, a powerful cancer-causing chemical. Nitrosamines flourish when meats containing nitrates are cooked at a high temperature such as frying or flame broiling. But foods with nitrates can just mix with our stomach acid and that’s enough to cause a nitrosamine reaction.

For years nitrates have been well documented to increase the risk of cancer, particularly brain cancer. A 1982 study even found the consumption of hot dogs increased the risk of leukemia in children by 700%! The reason nitrates are so risky is that when nitrates turn into nitrosamines they impact our health at the cellular level causing DNA damage – leading to diseases and speeding the aging process. Insulin resistance is also linked to nitrosamines and their ability to radically alter cells.

“We have become a ‘nitrosamine generation’,” Suzanne de la Monte, MD, PhD reported. “Not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leaching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking.”

Ground beef and cured meats like bacon, lunch meats and hot dogs particularly use nitrates to preserve color, add flavor and control bacteria.

However, you can rest assured that all of the meat sold at the Co-op—whether fresh or frozen, cured or not—is free of nitrates and nitrites. Look for Beeler’s bacon, Applegate Farms lunch meat and hot dogs, and Larry Shultz sausage, to name a few. Our meats also have the benefit of being antibiotic-free.