The way you cook can have a significant effect on your health. For example, grilling meat at high heat can lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, both carcinogenic chemicals. Heating your vegetable oil past the smoke point can also form carcinogens. Cooking with a lot of high-sugar sauces (like BBQ sauce) can have negative effects on your blood sugar levels.
According to a 2016 study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the way you cook your food can reduce or increase your chances of diabetes. Changing your cooking methods may be key to improving insulin control. Dry cooking methods: grilling, baking, broiling, sautéing, roasting, pan frying, and deep frying, anything that uses fat or air to cook the food increases the production of advanced glycation end products, AGEs. The Mount Sinai study confirmed that high levels of AGEs can lead to increased insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. What’s worse is they can also affect the brain, causing changes similar to those induced by Alzheimer’s.
The study examined the effects of dry cooked foods on obese individuals. One group ate a lot of dry cooked foods high in AGEs, while the others ate moist cooked, like steaming, stewing, or poaching, foods resulting in lower AGEs. Urine and blood samples were taken to measure insulin sensitivity. By the end of the trial, the group consuming high-AGE dry cooked foods showed much higher incidences of insulin resistance than the low-AGE group. The low-AGE group not only had better insulin control, but their body weight was slightly lower and the AGEs in their body had decreased visibly.
The study had another interesting side effect: cutting back on AGEs led to a positive effect on six genes that play a key role in inflammation and oxidative stress. A low-AGE diet led to a higher production of adiponectin and anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body.
Does this mean you should start boiling, steaming, stewing, or poaching all your food? Perhaps not all, but it’s definitely time to start looking for ways to use moist heat to cook your food. It’s no secret that dry cooking methods impart more flavor to your food. However, when it comes to your health, it may be time to consider making a sacrifice. Flavor is important, but changing the way you cook could reduce your risk of not just diabetes, but chronic inflammation, Alzheimer’s, and a range of other health problems caused by AGEs.
1. Helen Vlassara, Weijing Cai, Elizabeth Tripp, Renata Pyzik, Kalle Yee, Laurie Goldberg, Laurie Tansman, Xue Chen, Venkatesh Mani, Zahi A. Fayad, Girish N. Nadkarni, Gary E. Striker, John C. He, Jaime Uribarri. “Oral AGE restriction ameliorates insulin resistance in obese individuals with the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.” Diabetologia, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-016-4053-x.