About Nitrates

 

Nitrates, Nitrites, Definition

The Danger Behind Nitrates

Distribution of Nitrates

Cooking

How to Defend Against Nitrates

Maximum Permissible Concentration (MPC) Norms for Nitrates

 

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Nitrates, Nitrites, Definition

Nitrate is a nitric acid salt which contains a singly charged anion NO3. Its older name, saltpeter, is currently used mainly in mineralogy as the name for the corresponding mineral and in agriculture for fertilizers.
Mineral fertilizers contain nitric acid salts. Plants use nitrogen from the salt to build cells in their organisms to in turn create chlorophyll. Nitrates are not toxic for people, but upon entering the organism they are converted into nitrites.
Nitrite is a salt of nitrogenous acid HNO2.
Nitrites access the bloodstream in two ways: directly or by nitrates which are converted into nitrites in the blood. They are poisonous for human hemoglobin. Ferrous iron is oxidized and becomes ferric in hemoglobin, thus creating ferrihemoglobin, which is not able to transfer O2 or CO2.

 

 

The Danger Behind Nitrates

 

  • Occurrence of malignant diseases in the gastrointestinal tract creates conditions for the transition of nitrates in nitrosamines under the influence of microorganisms. Nitrosamines (carcinogens) are absorbed into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body
  • Synthesis of carcinogenic M-nitrosocompounds
  • Necrosis (death) of different cells; cells in the brain, myocardium and endothelium are particularly sensitive to N0
  • Development of ulcerative colitis and Crohn`s Disease
  • Onset of various degrees of hypotension, which can lead to the development of acute renal insufficiency
  • Violation of water-electrolyte metabolism in the organism, which leads to hypertension and kidney disease, also resulting in the development of cardiac insufficiency
  • Disruption of blood coagulation
  • Appearance of inflammatory processes in parenchymatous organs
  • Liver lesions
  • Development of frequent upper respiratory tract infections caused by the development of methemoglobinemia, which results from chronic nitrate intoxication
  • Pancreatic and thyroid gland lesions, which lead to the development of diabetes
  • Development of anemia, which leads to disturbance in memory, attention and intelligence
  • Simultaneous ingestion of large doses of nitrates leads to acute poisoning

Symptoms of acute poisoning by nitrates:

  • Severe cyanosis of the skin and mucous membranes (possibly severe pallor)
  • Sudden weakness, drowsiness, or vice-versa, sudden excitement
  • Dizziness, severe headaches, blackout
  • Dyspnea
  • Dystaxia
  • Loss of blood pressure, increased heart rate
  • In severe cases: convulsions, unconsciousness, coma
The main sources of nitrates in the human organism are water and vegetable products. From 75 to 90% of the total amount of nitrates get into the human organism with water and vegetables. Products of animal origin, i.e. meat, diary, eggs and fish contain small amounts of nitrates. Nitrate concentrations in canned and smoked meat products vary in a wide range from 0 up to 70 mg of N02 per 1kg. The presence of nitrates in these kinds of products is due to their use while canning meat as a stabilizer of color and a preservative.
Attention! The presence of E250-E255 in a product indicates the presence of nitrates!

 

 

Distribution of Nitrates

 

The greatest amount of nitrates is found in the tissues located closer to the root of a vegetable. The leaves of parsley, celery and dill contain 30%-40% less nitrates than the shanks and 60%-70% less than the stump.

  • Cucumbers, melons, eggplants, marrow plants and watermelons have level-by-level distribution of nitrates, which increases from the center of the foetus to the periphery and reaches a maximum near the skin and the very peel
  • The cabbage leaf contains 60%-70% less nitrate than the stump
  • Carrots are characterized by higher levels of nitrates in the core and stem
  • The highest concentrations is found in the root crop top of table beet: 65% of the total amount of nitrates in the vegetable
  • Unripe vegetables contain 2-3 times more nitrates than the ripe ones.

 

 

Cooking

 

Nitrates are well soluble in water. Their solubility increases with higher temperatures, so processing food using water, i.e. soaking, blanching, boiling, etc. serve to reduce the amount of of nitrate content in the product.
Initial processing of plant products, i.e. removal of green leaves covering the heads of cabbage and cabbage stump, the thick shanks of leaves in green plants, the roots of beets and carrots, cutting deeply into the foundations and the tops of cucumbers, reduces nitrate content by 20%-30%.
Washing with water and mechanical cleaning of products like potatoes, beets, carrots, swede, cabbage, etc. reduces their nitrate content by 10%.
1-hour soaking of potatoes, carrots, beetroot, swede and cabbage leads to a decrease in nitrate concentrations by 5%-30%.
The reduction of nitrate amounts after soaking depends on the shape of vegetables. Thus, when soaking cut beets, carrots, cabbage or potatoes, nitrate reduction is 1.5-4.4 times higher than when soaking whole vegetables.
Pickling is the most gentle way to reduce nitrates, with a maximum nitrate reduction value of 43% while preserving 83.4% of vitamin C, in contrast to boiling, which leads to a 47.2% loss in vitamin C.
Fermentation reduces nitrate content in the product up to 30% due to their transition into the brine and through microbiological processes that involve reduction of nitrates to more reduced forms of nitrogen, including gas. After the first stage of fermentation (up to 7 days) nitrite content levels can reach zero.
Preparation of juices and drying of vegetables increase their nitrate content in comparison with raw vegetables. The degree of this increase depends on the content of cellulose in the products (when making juice) and water (when drying).

 

How to Defend Against Nitrates

 

  • Minimize the consumption of nitrate for children and adults with drinking water and food
  • Use more animal protein and that of vegetable origin (lean meat, fish, curd, soya) to stimulate the organism enzyme systems and compensate antitoxic costs
  • Limit the use of simple carbohydrates (bread and pastry from flour, sugar, candies) and compensate them in your diet with natural carbohydrates, honey, fruits, dried fruits and vegetables; limit intake of animal fats by increasing volume and variety of vegetable fats such as sunflower, olive, flaxseed and rice oil
  • Normalize the microbial spectrum of the gastrointestinal tract by consuming dairy products like live yoghurt, biokefir, fermented baked milk and others, especially those composed of bifido- and lacto bacteria
  • Enrich the body with natural and herbal antioxidants, vitamins and microelements by eating garlic, turnips, sea buckthorn, lemons, wild rose hips, rowan, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seed and nuts
  • Exclude unripe and greenhouse vegetables from children’s diets, as they contain considerably higher doses of nitrates and nitrites
  • It is not recommended to eat fresh vegetable salads that have stood around at room temperature for 6-8 hours, as such conditions serve for the conversion of nitrates to more toxic substances: nitrosamines
  • Exclude from your diet sausages, smoked and canned products, as they are prepared with the addition of nitrates and nitrites
It is important to remember that boiling water contaminated with nitrates does not decrease but instead increases its toxicity. Water contaminated with nitrates is transparent, odorless and without visible impurities, nor does it possess any awkward taste.

 

 

Maximum Permissible Concentration (MPC) Norms for Nitrates

 

Product

MPC rate

Indication in menu

Apricot

60

Apricot

Watermelon

60

Watermelon

Banana

200

Banana

Eggplant

300

Eggplant

Grapes

60

Grapes

Pear

60

Pear

Greens

2000

Greengrocery

Melon

90

Melon

Early cabbage

900

Cabbage E

Late cabbage

500

Cabbage L

Vegetable marrow

400

Marrow

Potatoes

250

Potatoes

Strawberry

100

Strawberry

Bulb onion

80

Onion Bulb

Green onions

600

Onion Green

Early carrot

400

Carrot E

Late carrot

250

Carrot L

Nectarine

60

Nectarine

Cucumber (ground)

150

Cucumber S

Cucumber (greenhouse)

400

Cucumber G

Pepper (sweet)

250

Pepper sweet

Peach

60

Peach

Tomato (ground)

150

Tomato S

Tomato (greenhouse)

300

Tomato G

Radish Black

1500

Radish Black

Radish Garden

1000

Radish Garden

Lettuce

2000

Lettuce

Beet

1400

Beet

Persimmon

60

Persimmon

Apple

60

Apple

Infant rate

50

Baby Norm.

Fresh meat

200

Fresh meat