What Are The Risk And Benefits Of Nitrates In Food

Compounds such as nitrates and nitrites naturally occur in the human body and certain foods, including vegetables. They are also added to processed foods to preserve and prolong their shelf life.

Some forms of nitrates and nitrites may be dangerous. Others, however, may provide health benefits.

Difference Between Nitrates And Nitrites

There’s a difference between nitrates and nitrites. One nitrogen atom and three oxygen atoms make up nitrates (NO3). A nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms compose nitrites (NO2). The inert nature of nitrates means that they are stable and unlikely to change. However, the body can produce nitrites as a result of bacteria in the mouth or enzymes in the body.

To keep processed food fresh, manufacturers add nitrites. They’re responsible for the pink or scarlet colour of non-veg food items. Unless nitrites and other preservatives are used, these items will brown too soon.

Nitrates and nitrites are nitrogen and oxygen atom-based chemicals. Nitrates can transform into nitrites, generating either nitric oxide (suitable) or nitroamines (bad).

Effects Of Nitrates On Blood Pressure And Cardiovascular Health

Nitrite can lose an oxygen atom under certain conditions. Nitric oxide, a critical chemical, is the end product. Nitric oxide (NO) serves several purposes within the human body. A large amount can be poisonous, yet a small amount can assist in protecting the body.

However, its most notable function is a messenger molecule. A signal is sent to the small muscle cells surrounding arteries, asking them to relax as it passes through the walls of the arteries. Relaxation of these cells causes dilation of the blood arteries and decreases blood pressure.

The nitrates in nitroglycerin make it a medication. Medical professionals use it to treat various ailments, including heart failure. As a treatment for angina, nitroglycerin can prevent or alleviate chest discomfort caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle.

The body may also convert nitrates and nitrites found in food into nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Foods that are strong in nitrates, such as beetroot juice, have been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in studies. Over a few hours, blood pressure dropped by 4–10 mm/Hg in one research.

When it comes to heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure is a significant risk factor.

Is nitrates a good source of energy for athletes?

Nitrates have been shown to improve athletic performance, particularly in endurance exercise.

As a result of its high nitrate content, beetroot and beetroot juice are frequently used by some people.

Nitrates may be enhancing mitochondria’s efficiency, which would explain the improvement in physical performance. To generate energy, cells have mitochondria. Studies have indicated that beetroot can cut the oxygen cost of exercise by 5.4 percent, lengthen the time to fatigue when running by 15 percent, and improve sprinting performance by 4%.

High-intensity endurance activity, in particular, appears to benefit from the addition of dietary nitrates and nitrites to the diet.

Nitrates And Nitrites Pose A Danger

When nitrates and nitrites produce nitrosamine, they are both needed and potentially dangerous. High heat can produce nitrosamines when nitrates or nitrites are cooked.

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