Nitrate in leafy green vegetables and estimated intake
Background: Vegetarian diets are rich in vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are foods that contain considerable amounts of nitrate, which can have both positive and negative effects on the human body. Their potential carcinogenicity and toxicity have been proven, particularly after the reduction of nitrate to nitrite itself or just serving as a reactant with amines and/or amides in the formation of N-nitroso compounds -N-nitrosamines and other nitrogen compounds which may have high levels of nitrate. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a significant difference, considering the location and seasonal sampling period, in the level of nitrate in certain types of green vegetables, all in order to be able to assess their intake, and possible impact on human health, especially knowing that exposure to nitrate can be potentially higher for vegetarian population group.
Materials and Methods: For this purpose, the sampling of 200 different leafy green vegetables was conducted, all of which could be found in free sale in the Republic of Croatia. The sampling was conducted during two seasonal periods - the spring and autumn period. In the springtime, lettuce (sem), spinach (pinacho), kale (kale), chard (mangel) and cabbage (brassica) were sampled, and in autumn lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and arugula. Samples were analyzed using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with UV detection.
Results: The results from the spring sampling phase were in the range of 603 mg/kg for cabbage - 972 mg/kg for chard, and for autumn phase of 1.024 mg/kg for chard to 4.354 mg/kg for the arugula. The results showed that there were significant differences (p <0.05) for most of the samples analyzed, considering the sampling locations and time period.
Conclusion: The results indicate that the analyzed vegetables contain significant amounts of nitrate in their composition, which represents relatively significant, but still acceptable intake into the human body.
Keywords: leafy green vegetables, nitrate, HPLC, season period, daily intake