AskNadia: Are the Nitrates in My Low Carb Diet Bad for Me?

Dear Nadia,

I am on a low carb diet for my diabetes. My blood sugars are good, but I worry about the nitrates in the meat?


Dear Sylvia,

The nitrate food additive is of great concern to many people. To make this issue more complex, you should know that nitrates are not unique to commercially prepared cured meats. They can also be found in the environment, cosmetics, medications, household products, and vegetables.

An unacceptable amount of nitrates in your diet can develop into other chronic diseases such as Alzheimer Parkinsons’s and Cancer. At the same time, an acceptable amount of nitrates in your body is found to be beneficial to both your heart and metabolism.

Nitrates in Our Environment

Nitrites have a long history in our diet and are abundantly found in our water, soil, air and vegetables. The chemical makeup of nitrates and oxygen is what makes fertilizer and helps our plants grow. The Center for Disease and Control reports that 80% of the nitrates we ingest come from the vegetables we eat. Once we eat and chew these vegetables, the bacteria from our mouth converts the food into nitrates.


Nitrates in Meats

Nitrates are used in meats to eradicate bacteria and prevent food poisoning. The presence of nitrates also enhances the color of meat and gives it a certain flavor.

In 1925 commercially prepared meats were approved to contain nitrates to prevent food posioning. The nitrate regulation from this perspective was considered a benefit to human safety.


United States of Agriculture (USDA)

In the 1970’s the USDA restricted the amount of nitrates commercially processed meats can contain because research found when meats with nitrates were cooked at high temperatures (higher than 266 degrees Fahrenheit), the nitrate in the meat converted to nitrosamines which is a carcinogenic to animals.

Nitrates in Cosmetics

Diethanolamine (DEA) related products, a common ingredient in cosmetics, is known to disrupt hormones and form nitrates. DEA is commonly found in moisturizers and sunscreens.

Medication with Nitrates

Some common medication that have nitrates are:

Burn cream (Silver Nitrate)
Blood pressure and surgery medication (Nitroglycerine)
Antidiarrhea (Bismuth Subnitrite)


House Hold Products with Nitrates

Air Freshener
Flea Killer
Upholstery and Carpet Cleaner.


If you would like to view a comprehensive list of household products with nitrates, the Department of Human Health and Services has an extensive list.


Chronic Conditions Associated with Nitrates

Alzheimer & Parkinson’s

The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation has found a correlation between the environment and eating foods with nitrosamines, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) confirms  the World Health Organization’s statement that people who eat meats need to reduce their consumption of processed meats to reduce colorectal cancer.


The Safety of Nitrates

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health posted a research abstract by Tang Y1, Jiang H, Bryan NS who studied the benefits of nitrates and it is a relationship to heart and metabolism.  Tang Y1, Jiang H, Bryan NS concluded that the presence of nitrates did, in fact, benefits  one’s heart and metabolism.


How Many Milligrams of Nitrates Are Safe for You

The formula for an acceptable daily inn take for human consumption, and exposure is 3.7 mg of nitrates per 2.2 body weight, which equals 222 mg for a 132-pound person.


Congratulations on  figuring out the best diet for your blood sugar. Now you can add the acceptable daily nitrate consumption to your diet based on your weight and stop worrying about the possible adverse affects.


Here are some additional articles you might enjoy reading  about nitrates in meats.

Nitrates May Be a Major Culprit in Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s

About Bacon


Research Gate







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Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professionals therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia holds 14 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
Her passion for working in the diabetes community stemmed from her personal loss. She has used her experience as a caretaker to forge a career in helping others.

Nadia has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business and website have been sited, recognized and published in Herb Caen, WSJ, Ann Landers, Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand Week, Drug Topics and many other media outlets.

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