Nitrate Content of Organic Vegetables

Abstract: The nitrate and nitrite content of leaf vegetables (Swiss chard, sea beet, spinach and cabbage), “inflorescence” vegetables (cauliflower) and fruit vegetables (eggplant and vegetable marrow) grown with organic fertilizers have been determined by a modified cadmium-Griess method. Samples were purchased from organic food stores as well as collected directly from an organic farm in Madrid (Spain). Nitrate levels were much higher in the leaf vegetables (especially Swiss chard species; average over the different samples and species of 2778.6 ± 1474.7 mg kg-1) than in inflorescence or fruit products (mean values between 50.2 ± 52.6 and 183.9 ± 233.6 mg kg-1). Following Swiss chard species, spinach (1349.8 ± 1045.5 mg kg-1) showed the highest nitrate content, and nitrite was found above the limit of detection in some samples only (spinach, 4.6 ± 1.0 mg kg-1; sea beet, 4.2 ± 0.7 mg kg-1 and Swiss chard, 1.2 ± 0.4 mg kg-1). Some vegetables (spinach, cabbage and eggplant) had lower nitrate content in the samples harvested in summer, showing the influence of climatic conditions on the nitrate levels in a plant. The samples taken directly from the organic farm, with the exception of eggplant, had higher or slightly higher average nitrate values than samples purchased in the organic food stores, ranging from 117 to 1077%. © Taylor & Francis Ltd

Reference:  González, M., Martínez-Tomé, M. J., & Isasa, M. (2010). Nitrate and nitrite content in organically cultivated vegetables. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part B: Surveillance Communications, 3(1), 19-29. Available online at: