Nitrate in vegetables: toxicity, content, intake and EC regulation

Authors

  • Pietro Santamaria

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Vegetali, University of Bari, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
    • Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Vegetali, University of Bari, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy
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Abstract

Nitrate content is an important quality characteristic of vegetables. Vegetable nitrate content is of interest to governments and regulators owing to the possible implications for health and to check that controls on the content are effective. Nitrate itself is relatively non-toxic but its metabolites may produce a number of health effects. Until recently nitrate was perceived as a purely harmful dietary component which causes infantile methaemoglobinaemia, carcinogenesis and possibly even teratogenesis. Recent research studies suggest that nitrate is actually a key part of our bodies' defences against gastroenteritis. In this review are reported: (1) vegetable classification as a function of nitrate accumulation; (2) vegetable contribution to the total dietary exposure of nitrate; (3) European Commission Regulation No. 563/2002 which sets limits for nitrate in lettuce and spinach; (4) the maximum levels set in some countries for beetroot, cabbage, carrot, celery, endive, Lamb's lettuce, potato, radish and rocket; (5) the results of surveys on the nitrate content of vegetables in Italy and other European countries. Copyright © 2005 Society of Chemical Industry

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