I've talked before about bacon and other processed meat containing nitrates and nitrites. My family has always played it safe and limited the amount of processed meat we consume. By were our fears about the nitrate contant of food unfounded?
Not entirely. Nitrates and nitrites in their raw form can actually be benefitial to our health. However, it's the resulting product of high heat and nitrate that is of concern: nitrosamines.
Nitrosamines form when nitrates are heated in the presence of amino acids (like delicious pork belly). Nitrosamines come in many shapes and forms, but most are highly carcinogenic and should be avoided if at all possible.
So what's a bacon lover to do? There are a number of options to minimize your nitrosamine exposure. Try using a lower heat when cooking your bacon. Or better yet, select a truly nitrate-free bacon (not just one that contains celery salt/powder/juice). We often cook uncured pork belly just like regular bacon, adding salt during the cooking process, and have had wonderful success doing so. Lastly, select a pasture raised pork product over a convention pork product.
Want to lear more about nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamine? Head on over to AuthorityNutrition.com to read their scientific approach to how nitrates affect your health.