The Hidden Dangers of Sodium NitritesNov 7, 2022
Delicious breakfast bacon, a quick deli sandwich, or on-the-go jerky may be causing more harm to your health than you expect!
If you're reading this now, there's a high chance we agree that processed meats are full of unhealthy ingredients.
One of those unhealthy ingredients, Sodium Nitrite, is worth expanding on. Did you know this little ingredient could be a link to diabetes and even Alzheimer's?
We love Modern day conveniences just as much as the next person. But some practices have gotten out of hand.
By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of why you should pass on processed meats and what to reach for instead.
Let's Clear The Air - What Is Sodium Nitrite?
Sodium Nitrite is an inorganic compound that resembles a white, yellowish crystalline powder. This compound adds a more salty flavor to the meat while turning the dial up on its pink, reddish color. Food manufacturers use it to preserve processed meats by preventing the growth of bacteria.
Then What's Sodium Nitrate?
We know; stick with us. That isn't a typo switching out the "I" and the "A." We'll bring this full circle.
Sodium Nitrate is a natural form of salt. It even has the nickname "Chile saltpeter" from its abundance found in Chile.
In earlier practices, sodium nitrate was also used in food preservation. During this process, though, sodium nitrate turns into sodium nitrite when it interacts with the bacteria found in meat.
We're talking low levels here—nothing to raise a red flag about your health (more on this in a second).
Food manufacturers went wrong, which is no surprise. They cut out this naturally occurring process and started directly adding the inorganic compound sodium nitrite to processed meats.
Most likely to cut costs and probably make the food last on the shelf longer, but they had no consideration for how this compound would affect our overall health.
Nitrates vs. Nitrites
Don't worry; we won't bore you with a chemistry lesson, but remember that nitrates and nitrites are very similar in their chemical structure. Both are found in water, soil, and even plants. They are essential for our bodies to grow and develop.
It's also why healthier alternatives of sliced turkey use celery or onions to help preserve them a bit longer.
Consuming foods with nitrites can cause two things to happen:
1) They turn into nitric oxide, which can benefit the body in numerous ways.
2) They turn into nitrosamines, the harmful compounds we're writing this article to warn our community about. Combine high heat, amino acids, and nitrites, and you have the perfect storm for these disease-causing compounds.
The Hidden Dangers of Sodium Nitrites
Here's something quite shocking.
Have you experienced some of the short-term issues from consuming fast food, commercial deli meats, or canned beef?
Some of them are headaches and heartburn. Other more serious ones can be blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, heart palpitations, or even seizures!
In large doses is where significant issues tend to arise. So we also have to consider the cumulative effect of eating processed meats over the long term.
For example, sodium nitrite damages DNA in human respiratory tract cell lines (1).
Lastly, exposing your body to nitrosamines from high consumption of sodium nitrites has been directly linked to multiple cancers and even Alzheimer's (2)(3).
How Do You Avoid Eating Sodium Nitrites?
During the day-to-day hustle, it's easy to reach for those quick protein sources.
Here's a quick list of the most common foods that contain sodium nitrites:
- Hot dogs
- Corned Beef
- Beef Jerky
- Deli Lunch Meat
- Cured Meat
- Smoked Meat
Read Your Food Labels
Something vital to keep in mind is that not all meats are created equal.
And it all starts with where you get it from and the quality of that meat.
Eating grass-fed, pasture-raised meats fresh from a local farm or online sites such as US Wellness Meats is the way to go.
You should look out for heavily processed meats and read the food labels on products you're buying to see if that item is cured or has sodium nitrites added.
If you're buying from bakeries and open food shops, you can ask their management if sodium nitrite will be in the foods.
Here are a few healthier alternatives you can choose from:
- US Wellness Meats
- Butcher Box
- Applegate Products
- Force of Nature Meats
- Epic Beef Jerky Bars
- OrganicMuscle Protein Powder
Our Last Words
We care enough about what you put into your body here at Organic Muscle, and you should watch too!
Limiting your intake of heavily processed meats is going to do your body and long-term health a huge favor.
Invest your dollars into organic food and supplements and support regenerative farming. It's the way nature intended for both us and the planet.
(1) Acute oral dose of sodium nitrite induces redox imbalance, DNA damage, metabolic and histological changes in rat intestine: Article
(2) Dietary Patterns in Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Aging: Article
(3) Nitrosamine and related food intake and gastric and oesophageal cancer risk: a systematic review of the epidemiological evidence: Article