Although I touched this topic before, I want to mention it again, as it is really important. We love to use high temperatures for cooking, especially when frying or grilling. Unfortunately, those high-temperature cooking methods can be quite harmful.
It’s not only what types of food you eat, that determine your health, it’s also how you prepare those foods! An increasing number of studies suggest that using high-temperature methods for cooking are rather unhealthy.
The following example will be somewhat of an eye opener. People who eat fish on a regular basis have a decreased risk of heart attacks, but people who are only eating deep fried fish actually have a higher risk of heart attacks.
The link between high-temperature cooking and negative effects on the health has already been established over a decade ago, so it isn’t anything new. Unfortunately, it seems as if people didn’t pay attention to this connection.
In 2003, scientists showed that consuming foods that were cooked at high temperatures not only increase the rate at which we age, but also can result in chronic inflammation and increased glycation.
Knowledge-base: Glycation is a natural process where a sugar in your bloodstream binds with a protein or fat molecule. This process leads to the formation of Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs), which are associated with inflammation, aging and several degenerative diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
The other chemical substances that develop during high-temperature cooking are called acrylamide, which you’ve probably already read about and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) & polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
While HCAs and PAHs are mostly found in grilled & charred meats and fish, they are also found in processed foods, like breakfast cereals, fats/oils as well as tobacco smoke.
Those two substances are classified as carcinogenic agents, meaning they are responsible for the development of cancer.
The best way to avoid any of these harmful compounds is, first of all, changing your cooking methods, as I already mentioned. Instead of high-temperature direct contact cooking like grilling and frying, chose low temperature cooking methods with indirect contact, like boiling, steaming, poaching.
While some foods are more prone to develop AGEs, HCAs or PAHs in general, the amount of them is also related to the cooking method.
90 grams of chicken breast can contain between 1000 and 9000 units of AGEs.
- Grilling, frying, broiling or roasting: 4000 to 9000 AGEs
- Stewing, steaming or boiling: 1000 AGEs
If you are already consuming lots of natural foods, you should think about new cooking methods such as steaming, boiling or stewing. They’ll make food taste as good as high-temperature cooking methods, so you have nothing to lose to experiment with them.
Steps to take:
- Use low-temperature cooking more often.
- Belin RJ, Greenland P, Martin L, et al. Fish intake and the risk of incident heart failure: the Women’s Health Initiative. Circ Heart Fail. 2011 Jul;4(4):404-13.
- Mozaffarian D, Gottdiener JS, Siscovick DS. Intake of tuna or other broiled or baked fish versus fried fish and cardiac structure, function, and hemodynamics. Am J Cardiol. 2006 Jan 15;97(2):216-22.