It’s relatively OLD NEWS regarding the dangers of nitrosamines in the processed foods we eat. Exposing foods, particularly those with higher nitrite contents, to high temperatures (such as in grilling and frying) cause the nitrites and amines in those foods to transform into nitrosamines. Bacon, hot dogs, other cured meats and certain cheeses that are preserved with nitrite pickling salt are prime sources of nitrites in our food supply. However, many vegetables also contain nitrites since nitrate and nitrite chemicals are found in the fertilizers used in farming.
The resulting nitrosamines that can form during high-temperature cooking have been determined to be carcinogenic. Further studies indicate that they may play a role in Alzheimer’s brain degeneration. Other studies have linked nitrosamines to Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease and even obesity.
Nitrates and nitrites are added to foods as preservatives to prevent salmonella production primarily in meat products. Sodium nitrite is responsible for the pink color in bologna. Leafy greens also have high levels of nitrites that come from the fertilizers and natural nitrites in the soil, but these don’t seem to have the same effect on our bodies as the nitrites that are artificially added to meat products.
There is one exception, however, that I found most interesting and this is particularly what I wanted to share with you. If you are attempting to limit your nitrite consumption from the foods you consume, this is an important helpful tip. DO NOT REHEAT SPINACH!!
Spinach is abundant in many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but it also contains high levels of nitrites (a natural result of the plant absorbing nitrites from the soil as it grows—even in organically grown spinach). Others dispute this claim as pure fantasy and state that the idea of reheating spinach as a dangerous action is merely a myth.
I say act cautiously! When possible, eat spinach fresh and uncooked. If you decide to use spinach in a cooked recipe, don’t reheat the spinach dish the next day because the additional heat may transform the nitrites in the spinach to dangerous nitrosamines.
Uncooked Spinach => Healthy Eating!
Reheating Spinach => An Unwise Eating Choice!
Thoughts? Comments? Disputes? I’d love to hear them!
Yikes! Thanks for the good advice, James. We eat a lot of spinach; happily, mostly fresh.
Keep those fresh leafy greens coming! Love raw spinach myself!