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Meat science

Sodium nitrite: the "cure" for nitric oxide insufficiency.


PMID 22464105

Abstract

This process of "curing" food is a long practice that dates back thousands of years long before refrigeration or food safety regulations. Today food safety and mass manufacturing are dependent upon safe and effective means to cure and preserve foods including meats. Nitrite remains the most effective curing agent to prevent food spoilage and bacterial contamination. Despite decades of rigorous research on its safety and efficacy as a curing agent, it is still regarded by many as a toxic undesirable food additive. However, research within the biomedical science community has revealed enormous therapeutic benefits of nitrite that is currently being developed as novel therapies for conditions associated with nitric oxide (NO) insufficiency. Much of the same biochemistry that has been understood for decades in the meat industry has been rediscovered in human physiology. This review will highlight the fundamental biochemistry of nitrite in human physiology and highlight the risk benefit evaluation surrounding nitrite in food and meat products. Foods or diets enriched with nitrite can have profound positive health benefits.