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On-line version ISSN 1678-4596
LUZ, Gean Lopes da et al. The nitrate issue in hydroponic lettuce and the human health. Cienc. Rural [online]. 2008, vol.38, n.8, pp. 2388-2394. ISSN 1678-4596. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-84782008000800049.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is the main vegetable crop produced hydroponically. In this kind of cropping, the majority of nitrogen is provided as nitrate, which may lead to the accumulation of this ion in cells. Nitrate amount in plants depends upon genetic factors, the availability of this nutrient in roots and environmental factors. Several studies have indicated that the consumption of nitrate may be harmful to human health, causing methaemoglobinaemia and gastric cancer. However, recent studies have proposed that there is no link between nitrate and these diseases, and that nitrate may be even good for human health as a protector against gastroenteritis. Some other studies have indicated that the presence of certain vitamins in plants is likely to inhibit possible negative effects of nitrate. High nitrate concentrations in lettuce grown hydroponically in northern European countries have been a matter of concern to the scientific community and Brazilian consumers. Nevertheless, studies have demonstrated that in Brazil, because of higher solar radiation at low latitudes, nitrate amounts found in lettuce produced hydroponically are much lower than the amounts given by the European community, indicating no risk to human health.
Keywords : Lactuca sativa L.; nitrate; methaemoglobinaemia; gastric cancer.