Why Turn the Heat Down and Poach, Stew or Steam?

December 3, 2009 in Diabetes, Health Claims, Nutrition by Joyce Bunderson

When we cook, fry, grill or smoke foods at a high temperature we create something called advanced glycation end products (AGEs); which are plentiful in the American diet. You don’t need to remember what it’s called, but it’s good to remember the effects of AGEs. It turns out that AGEs are related to oxidation, inflammation and ultimately may be part of what boosts the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

If we cut back on the intake of AGEs we give our bodies the chance to use our natural defenses more efficiently. It’s a little bit like putting less mud in the swimming pool – it’s easier for the chlorine to keep the pool water fresh.

The researchers at the National Institute on Aging and Mount Sinai School of Medicine found dramatic improvements in the markers for inflammation and blood-vessel health in those who reduced the AGE intake 50% by poaching, stewing and steaming their meals.

I know that many of you may enjoy grilled food; deep fried food or even smoked food.  Maybe if you’re not interested in giving up that style of cooking, you may be able to cut back on it. Another way of reducing the AGEs in food is to add water to the cooking process. I must admit that my BBQ experience is extremely limited. I have no hints of how to do it on the BBQ but the Wikipedia has some for barbecue-braising (some AGEs, but less); do any of you have BBQ tips for reducing the heat? Please send your ideas.

An important aspect of this research is that it has shown to be effective for those who were healthy and those with chronic disease.  It is something that we can do, regardless of our genetics.

The researchers advised “keeping the heat down and the water content up in food and avoiding pre-packaged and fast foods." This is yet another reason to avoid the processed and fried foods (think French fries) and turn the heat down – maybe try a new recipe. How about braising or using the crock pot? The study is reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.