New academic work has found evidence that appears to challenge the conventional wisdom that all nitrates and nitrites are noxious to humans and suggests that those derived from natural sources, like plants, may in fact offer health benefits.
The compounds in question are naturally occurring ions associated with the nitrogen cycle in soil and water, and some of them have been linked to a variety of health problems, including gastrointestinal cancer. However, Norman Hord, a researcher working at Michigan State University, found that intake higher what the WHO guidelines specify — namely a maximum 222 milligrams a day — may be safe.
According to Hord, who is an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State, people may safely consume more than 1,000 milligrams of nitrates and nitrites daily, as long as they come from fruits and vegetables.
In fact, he says recent research has found that "components of vegetables and fruit that originate in the soil may function as nutrients by contributing to cardiovascular health."
The scientist is therefore calling for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to review and relax their stringent regulations.