Loading...
I have been watching the commercials for the third district race and found it to be a down-to-the-wire-event. We have...

Kathy Kolassa: Nitrates and a healthy diet

KolasaKathy

Kathy Kolasa

Loading…

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dear readers, in time for you to read and think about before making New Year’s resolutions, find your personal physical activity recommendations at https://health.gov/paguidelines. Only 2 in 10 Americans get the physical activity needed to manage their weight, reduce risks for some chronic diseases and to feel great. The guidelines are clear that doing something is better for your health than not moving at all. You don’t have to belong to a gym or have fancy exercise clothes to move. Some is better than none, but adults obtain the maximal benefits of physical activity by regularly performing 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity.

Q Why are nitrate rich green leafy vegetable like arugula, spinach and collard greens considered to be good for heart health, but bacon and other processed meats with added nitrates are considered to be unhealthy? WR, Greenville

A That’s a great question. Brooke Dempster, an ECU dietetic student worked hard to answer your question. Here is what she wants you to know.

The food that we eat is made up of a lot of chemicals and it can sometimes be confusing to figure out the risks or benefits of them to our health. In a food science class, you would learn that nitrates and nitrites are naturally occurring compounds commonly found in vegetables and in additives in processed meats. These two compounds are different based on the number of oxygens attached to the central nitrogen with nitrate having three and nitrite having two.

I won’t try and give a chemistry lesson, but when nitrates are consumed, they are converted to nitrites by bacteria and enzymes produced by salivary glands in your mouth. Further into digestion when nitrites reach the stomach, they have the ability to convert into either nitric oxide or nitrosamines.

The source of the food we consume determines the pathway of the conversion it will take within the body. Nitrates derived from plant products are converted to nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that has many beneficial properties including the protection of cells and the control of cardiac rhythm.

Nitric oxide promotes good heart health because it is a strong vasodilator, meaning it improves the amount of blood flow to and from the heart by increasing the width of blood vessels. This helps improve health conditions like prehypertension and hypertension, also known as high blood pressure by lowering blood pressure resistance. Nitric oxide also protects against plaque build-up in arteries, strokes, and heart attacks. Improving blood flow allows the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body’s many tissues and organs while removing carbon dioxide and waste products. Dietary sources with a considerably high amount of nitrates for the production of nitric oxide include lettuce, spinach, arugula and beets.

On the other hand, nitrites derived from processed meats have the ability to convert to harmful nitrosamines when mixed with stomach acid or when they come in contact with high temperatures. This conversion occurs due to the proteins and iron found in the meat. Nitrosamines are considered carcinogenic due to their association with gastrointestinal, colorectal and rectal cancers and also because of their capability to produce tumors in high amounts.

Nitrates are added to the meat for the purpose of fixing the color and contributing to the overall flavor. They also increase the shelf life of meat by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms within the meat. Nitrates control the oxidation of fat, which means they prevent the meat product from becoming rancid and developing a spoiled off taste and an ammonia like smell.

Nitrites derived from vegetables have the ability to inhibit the conversion to nitrosamines that can promote cancer because they contain a variety of antioxidants, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and phytochemicals. This is why it is important to consume fruits and vegetables high in nitrates in order to promote good heart heath and the lower the risk of cancer.

I want to give a shout-out to Dr. Mike Wheeler, chair of ECU’s Department of Nutrition Science who helped us get the message right.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and Ph.D., is an Affiliate Professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at kolasaka@ecu.edu.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

June 19, 2019

It is no secret that health care communication can be incredibly complex. This is especially so for patients who experience language and cultural barriers.

Luckily, there is a group of specially-trained Vidant Health Language Access Service interpreters who offer a voice to patients in-need, 24/7.…

5d08fa61e075c.image.jpg

June 19, 2019

Q I saw a story in a cooking magazine with the headline, “yes ultra-processed foods could be killing you.” What are ultra-processed foods and is that a true statement? CC, Winterville

A I have said in this column, in talks, when counseling patients and when feeding family and friends,…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 16, 2019

Even though I’ve spent a significant portion of my adult life working in TV, I was often too busy to actually watch much of it, or at least to pay much attention to the commercials.

Now that I’m semi-retired and am watching more television, mostly on cable news channels, I’m…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 14, 2019

In many ways, theater is like a spelling bee. Those preparing to take the stage spend weeks practicing and memorizing, hoping they won't get tripped up by a word when they get their moment in the spotlight.

Perhaps nowhere is this parallel more evident than in “The 25th Annual Putnam County…

bee

June 12, 2019

Q My doctor told me to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Can you give me any tips? MM, Winterville

A I hope your doctor gave your more information about your dietary goals since you won’t find that title in the diet manual used by health care professionals.

Most registered dietitian…

Kolasa, Kathy

June 12, 2019

One of my favorite summertime activities is attending cookouts. They have a myriad of tasty food from grilled meats, salads, desserts, and all the other fixings we associate with this event. One of my favorite things to serve at a cookout is seafood in any form from grilled, marinated to fried.

If…

The whiting sandwich from 42 Fry.

June 09, 2019

Having experienced deep depression firsthand, I now feel a sense of kinship with others who have struggled to overcome the same condition and still battle regularly to remain mentally healthy

As someone who’s in the public eye in a very minor way, it encourages me to know about far more…

Bob Garner.jpg

June 09, 2019

On our way to play golf today, Charlie and I couldn't think of the name of the movie star who had come up in our conversation. We could remember all the movies he was in, all his co-stars, all kinds of odd trivia about his life and times — everything but his name. That's all right; sometime…

JimMullen

June 09, 2019

This is the second of two columns on divisions inside United Methodism. Part 1 was published May 29.

The word "conversion" has been at the heart of Christianity for two millennia, with missionaries and evangelists urging sinners to repent and change their wicked ways.

Jesus also needed to be…

Terry Mattingly

June 07, 2019

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the co-creators of an X-Men character named Jean Grey. In Marvel comic books, she has been known under various aliases — Marvel Girl, Phoenix and Dark Phoenix. A mutant, Grey was born with telepathic and telekinetic powers. She rivals Professor Xavier in her mind-…

x-men-dark-phoenix-1558109594.jpg
208 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 21
        Next Page»   Last Page»