Did you ever think there might be harmful chemicals in your food? I'm not talking about contaminants like pesticides, I'm talking about natural compounds made harmful by the food processing or cooking methods we use.
There are harmful compounds in raw foods, as well as cooked foods. For example, some foods, mainly dairy, beans and grains, contain lectins; cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens and oxalic acid, although cooking neutralizes most of the oxalic acid that could potentially be harmful. Most people never have a problem consuming these compounds in moderation. Cooked foods, as long as they're healthy foods, also give us detoxing nutrients. Unhealthy foods, however, like those that are refined and processed, give us different challenges and little nutrition to help remove those pesky unhealthy compounds.
Refined and processed foods didn’t exist until the late 1800’s. The decline in our health as Americans has a lot to do with the absence of nutrients in our diet thanks to the introduction of processed foods. The body cannot detox naturally occurring or man-made substances without adequate nutrition. And as we know, refined and processed foods give very little nutritional value.
When cooking foods, cooking temperature, time and type of heat are what determine the amount of AGE’s produced, or Advanced Glycation End Products, the harmful byproducts of cooking with sugar, proteins, and fat. Dry heat produces substantially more AGE’s than wet heat. Boiling, poaching, steaming and stewing are the cooking methods that produce the least amount of AGE’s, while grilling, frying, baking, and broiling produces the most.
AGE’s accelerate our aging at the cellular level. Research performed over the past several years has shown that about 30% of the AGE's in food are absorbed into the body and remain in various tissues for considerable periods of time. In animal studies, restriction of dietary AGE's slowed the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetes. A study in humans found that a low-AGE diet reduced blood levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation and a known risk factor for heart disease.
Research over the last 20 years has implicated AGE's in most of the diseases associated with aging, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Kidney disorders
- High blood pressure
- Visual impairment
- Skin disorders
The amount of AGE’s in food varies. Here, you can seek that the foods with the highest AGE content are animal foods and a few roasted nuts. Always eat nuts raw for the best health. There are very few AGE's in plant based foods, like vegetables and fruits.
Remember that eating nutritious foods and preparing your foods in different ways will reduce the risk of health issues from harmful chemicals and compounds present in everyday foods.