How Your Food Is Cooked Affects Your Health – Eat More Raw!
We constantly hear about food sensitivities, alkaline foods, gluten free living, organic foods, vegetarian or high protein diets and so on, but could it be that how food is cooked affects our health!
Humans existed long before we discovered fire and learnt to cook food, therefore it would be reasonable to assume that humans were designed to subsist on raw foods. There is growing evidence that consuming more raw foods can have health benefits for all ages and including improvements in hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia due to a reduction in inflammation and an increase in antioxidant activity.
Having said that, the beneficial effects of cooking some foods will destroy nasty microorganisms and inactivating undesirable phytochemicals in certain foods (such as the trypsin inhibitor in soybeans or the oxalic acid in silver beet), which allows for a greater variety of foods that we can consume.
From our first mouthfuls as babies to our oldies in long term care and everyone in between and the over-cooking of food at home or excess of processed food from a take-away or the supermarket is contributing to chronic disease. Cooked food, sometimes called brown food, lasts longer on the shelf, in the fridge and may seem cheaper, but in the end is costly to our cellular health
Over frying, broiling and roasting food create AGE’s that:
• produce a number of toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)
• lead to the destruction or leaching of essential nutrients from weaning to old age
• decrease our ability to digest our food, especially for infants and later as we age
• potentially provoke an unwanted immune (allergic/inflammatory) response in the body
• play a role in insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory and carcinogenic diseases
• accelerate the aging process
Highest AGE content foods
• All food that is cooked at higher temperatures and in the absence of water.
• High-fat and high-protein foods such as meat and cheese
• commercially prepared breakfast foods, snacks and meals
How to Reduce the Amount of Dietary AGEs
• Raw foods are virtually devoid of AGEs. More than half your meal and all your snacks should be raw.
• Cooking at lower temperatures and in the presence of water results in little AGE formation
• Choose boiling, poaching, and stewing over frying, broiling and roasting, may decrease daily AGE intake by up to 50%.
• Microwaving foods increases their AGE content only modestly, similar to boiling
There is a great deal of research on this subject so if you wish to read more see this article and some of the links to more research on the effects of AGE’s. Here is a recent publication by Mark AB et al. Consumption of a diet low in advanced glycation end products for 4 weeks improves insulin sensitivity in overweight women.