Nitrates and Nitrites, What?

Chemically speaking, Nitrates (NO3) and Nitrites (NO2) are from the same chemical compound family. They both also occur naturally in our food and water supply, and our body does need them to function properly. Nitrates are used mainly to make fertilizer, explosives and glass while nitrites are used mainly as a preservative in foods. However, these two naturally occurring chemicals, when used in excess have very dangerous side effects.

To explain this effectively I need to break down some facts.  While I know this list may seem long.  It is worth reading all the way down the page, otherwise you will only get part of the information:

Nitrates/Nitrites are not all bad.

So here is my personal advice:

  1. Buy lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs and sausages that are nitrate free whenever possible. There are some great brands out there to choose from.
  2. Don’t sweat it if you have the occasional salami, ham, sausage or hot dog while dining out or at a BBQ. Try to eat something high in vitamin C if you can. Remember it is all about the balance.
  3. Contact your Unified School District and ask them not to serve processed lunch meats like hot dogs and cold cuts more than twice per month. Not at all would be better, but sometimes it is better to compromise and then you can avoid buying hot lunch for your child on those days. If that doesn’t work, start a campaign at your school to boycott hot lunch on the days they serve processed lunchmeats.
  4. If you have concerns about your child’s headaches, or HDAD or social behavior and you suspect it is due to too many nitrates in his/her diet, please consult your pediatrician and ask for some advice or to see a nutritionist.