Manufacturers include nitrates and nitrites in foods such as cured sandwich meats, bacon, salami, or sausages to give them color and extend their shelf life. When added to processed foods, they can form nitrosamines in the body, which increases your risk of developing cancer.
These chemicals also contaminate drinking water because of nitrogen-based fertilizers, livestock, and human waste. They are most dangerous for infants, who can develop a rare but severe condition known as methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome.
Research shows a substantial difference between the nitrates added to foods as preservatives and those occurring naturally in produce such as spinach and celery. Naturally occurring nitrates in food come with vitamin C and other compounds that inhibit their conversion into nitrosamines.
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