This is from some notes I took from Dr. Rhonda Patricks podcast with Joe Rogan. Many people, including myself didn't or don't know the difference.
Nitrites can be carcinogenic. This is the type that is in some forms of bacon and processed foods. Nitrates are found in many vegetables. Nitrates can be turned to nitrites in our bodies. So this isn't a great thing. The blessing of fruits and vegetables is that there are antioxidants, mainly ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in the foods that takes the nitrites and makes nitric oxide with them. Nitric Oxide is a very healthy thing to our bodies.
Nitrites can turn to nitrosamines. These are not a good thing and are labeled carcinogenic. This goes to show you the importance of ascorbic acid and antioxidants in our diet. When you can choose nitrite free sources of food. Things like bacon are now offered without nitrites added.
Here is a potential list of benefits from nitric oxide.
1. boosts memory
2. helps immune system fight bacteria
3. enhance strength endurance
4. regulate blood pressure
5. reduce inflammation
6. assist gastric motility
Here is an article from the Linus Pauling Institute. Nitrosamines and Cancer.