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Research supports calls to study health benefits of nitrate, nitrite
Date:8/20/2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. A Michigan State University researcher is challenging health standards that consider nitrates and nitrites in food to be harmful.

Norman Hord's research suggests that although there are negative health effects associated with the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and excessive nitrates in groundwater, nitrates and nitrites -- as they occur in plants -- may actually provide health benefits.

Nitrate and nitrite are naturally occurring ions associated with the nitrogen cycle in soil and water. They are regulated in water and certain foods by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration because they have been associated with gastrointestinal cancer, blood disorders in infants and other health problems. The World Health Organization established a standard of 222 milligrams per day as an acceptable daily nitrate intake.

Most of the concern with these compounds relates to their presence in drinking water from shallow wells near farms and the consumption of processed meats. In most diets, however, between 70 percent and 80 percent of the nitrates comes from vegetables, government and research sources say.

"We and others have shown that components of vegetables and fruit that originate in the soil may function as nutrients by contributing to cardiovascular health," says Hord, associate professor of food science and human nutrition. "Since these components of plant foods have important health implications, the regulatory limits on the consumption of plant foods that contain nitrates and nitrites need to be seriously reconsidered."

Hord, the primary author of the study, collaborated with Nathan Bryan and Yaoping Tang at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Their thesis and supporting arguments were published in the July 2009 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We wanted to show the toxicity risk cited as the basis for fede
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Contact: Val Osowski
osowskiv@msu.edu
517-355-0123
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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