Assessment of potential nitrite safety risk of leafy vegetables after domestic cooking

Songheng Wu, Yuhuan Liu, Xian Cui, Qi Zhang, Yunpu Wang, Leipeng Cao, Xuan Luo, Jianghua Xiong, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Improper cultivation can easily cause excessive nitrate accumulation in leafy vegetables, and the cooking processes used to prepare them can upset their nitrate/antioxidant balance, affecting their potential nitrite safety risk (PNSR). We investigated the impacts stir-frying, steaming, microwav-ing, and boiling on the nitrate, nitrite, and antioxidant capacity in water spinach and cabbage, and observed the impacts of storage duration on the PNSR. The antioxidant/in vivo nitrite ratio (A/N) was used to evaluate the nitrite risks in the cooked vegetables. Boiling achieved the highest A/N ratio (1.57) for water spinach, reducing the nitrate content by 25% without significantly affecting the antioxidant capacity. Stir-frying achieved the highest A/N ratio (6.55) for cabbage, increasing the antioxidant capacity by 140% without significantly affecting the nitrate content. Furthermore, it was found that the storage periods for boiled water spinach and stir-fried cabbage should not exceed 12 h and 24 h, respectively. Appropriate cooking methods and limited storage times are thus required for leafy vegetable to prevent adverse health effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2953
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 21878139; No. 21878237 and 22166026), and by the key project of Jiangxi Provincial Department of Science and Technology (20181BBF60026), by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province, China (Project No. 2020BAB203012), and by the research program of State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, Nanchang university (Project No. SKLF-ZZB-201915).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Antioxidant/in vivo nitrite ratio
  • Cooking
  • Leafy vegetable
  • Nitrate
  • Potential nitrite safety risk assessment
  • Total antioxidant capacity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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