Nitrates & Nitrites
Both nitrates and nitrites are something that our bodies rely on and are both used in the curing process of smoked meats. There are major misconceptions about nitrates and nitrites, many believe that they have been linked to human cancers or are even carcinogenic, but there is no evidence to prove this. Nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, but beneficial for the human body especially for heart and immune health. They are also used in medication to ease and prevent angina pain. Currently nitrites are being studied as being beneficial for our immune and cardiovascular health. They are being studied as treatment for hypertension, heart attacks, sickle cell and circulatory disorders.
Here at Smokehaus Meats we only use Nitrites in our products. We do not use other preservatives in any of our meat products other than ingredients such as salt, mustard, cayenne pepper and natural smoke. These ingredients have a natural preserving quality.
Nitrates and nitrites are not only found in smoked meats but also in many other things such as vegetables like celery, beets and leafy green, even your own saliva. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrites that 467 hot dogs. And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them!
Nitrates and nitrites are also found naturally in water and soil. Following are the steps in the Nitrogen Cycle: Bacteria convert nitrogen to nitrate in the soil. Plants absorb these nitrates. Animals eat plants and use the nitrate to make proteins. Nitrates are returned to the soil by way of animal feces or after the death of animals and plants. Finally bacteria convert nitrates to nitrites and further to nitrogen. Nitrates also help humans make proteins.
If you think you can avoid all of these “nitrite and nitrate free” products such as hot dogs, bacon and deli meats, you are wrong. These products all use “natural” ingredients that all have the same chemical compounds. These ingredients are celery and beet juice or extract and sea salt. These products are no more free from nitrites and nitrates as standard cured meats. They may even contain more!
The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth: Another Reason not to Fear Bacon http://chriskresser.com/the-nitrate-and-nitrite-myth-another-reason-not-to-fear-bacon
Nitrates and Nitrites: The Differences, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly http://voices.yahoo.com/nitrates-nitrites-differences-good-the-8577399.html
Ruhlman & Polycyn. 2012. The craft of italian dry curing Salumi. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc.
Nitrite, nitrate-rich foods may not be so bad after all http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Nitrite-nitrate-rich-foods-may-not-be-so-bad-after-all