What the Heck are Nitrates and Why are They Bad for Me?

In a nutshell…

Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds that are created when plants break down nitrogen during photosynthesis. Nitrates become nitrites when they come into contact with bacteria. When nitrate-containing meats are cooked, the nitrites combine with the proteins and they convert into carcinogens.

Manufacturer’s add nitrates to meats to preserve their pink color. So with that in mind, backyard barbecues set the stage for a “Nitratepalooza”. Everybody loves the sides of potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, garlic bread, and almost everyone’s favorite…the meat! Here are a few tips you can use when shopping for your ingredients:

● Choose lean ground beef or turkey for your hamburgers (90/10 or 93/7).

● If you can, choose all beef hot dogs and dogs that are free of nitrates and nitrites. Look for items that are “uncured” or “nitrate and nitrite free”.

● Choose low sodium sauces and dressings to top or marinate your meats with.

● Marinate peppers, mushrooms and zucchini in low sodium soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and throw them on the grill.

● Wheat buns are a healthier choice than white buns.

● Offer a refreshing fruit salad to your guests. It’s a great way to rehydrate!

● Hamburger topper ideas that I’ve tried: crispy cucumber slices, sliced avocado, pineapple ring, spinach leaves, or a little spread of low-fat cream cheese

Everyone take care! This heat is crazy.


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