Thursday, December 11, 2003

Nitrites Healthy?

Nitrites cause cancer. Remember hearing that? Health experts said that to be on the safe side you should cook your bacon over low heat to avoid those nitrites or better yet buy nitrite-free bacon. Nitrite, a common additive in cured meats like bacon is used to help preserve it and give the meat a rosy color. How, you might have wondered, could something that makes bacon better possibly be so bad for you? Well, it turns out that the science behind nitrites (or nitrates) being carcinogenic is sketchy to say the least.

In case you missed it, according to a New York Times article published November 3, 2003 *, it now turns out nitrites might actually be GOOD FOR YOU. There is even the possibility of nitrite therapy being developed for certain ailments, specifically stroke, pulmonary disease, obstructed heart vessels and other conditions involving poor circulation. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at the University of Alabama and Wake Forest University have found that nitrite, a common salt, can open blood vessels and improve blood flow in parts of the body. In a report published in the November issue of Nature Medicine, researchers said they found that nitrite can be readily converted into nitric oxide, a potent compound known to expand blood vessels and regulate the circulatory system.

Scientists say that there is a lot more research that needs to be done (but don't they always?) to prove if this approach is beneficial. But in the meantime, skip that grey sad looking bacon, and go back to the healthy looking pink stuff. After all, it might just better for you than you think...

*"Study Finds That Nitrites in the Body Greatly Aid Blood Flow"