About Nitrite and Nitrate

Eating right is the foundation for living a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a busy parent trying to nourish your children, an active athlete or someone who believes in making the right food choices, understanding the health and nutrition properties in your food is important.

Nitrate and nitrite are naturally occurring molecules that are found in many of the foods we eat every day. Even so, there is confusion about the role they play in our food and in human health, like are they good for me? Can they harm me? What are they used for?

Recently, breakthrough science has identified the vast health benefits and importance of proper nitrite and nitrate intake. They are naturally occurring molecules found most commonly in green leafy vegetables, like spinach and lettuce. They can help regulate blood pressure, prevent injury from a heart attack, promote wound healing and much more. They are also used in cured meats to enhance food safety, either as sodium nitrite or in naturally occurring forms like celery extract.

What’s the difference between nitrate and nitrite?

Nitrite (NO2-) and nitrate (NO3-) are two molecules that create nitric oxide in the body, which is essential to a healthy metabolism and good cardiovascular health. Nitrate is converted to nitrite in our bodies through normal digestion.

This site is made possible by the Canadian Meat Council. The Canadian Meat Council has been representing Canada’s federally inspected meat industry since 1919.