Cooked Food Toxins: Reducing Exposure to Heat Induced Carcinogens

Cooked Food Toxins is the unambiguous, accurate label given to the chemicals formed when foods are exposed to high heat. The five categories of cooked food toxins are unmistakably dangerous and should be avoided if not eliminated from your diet. After each toxin you will find easy ways to avoid or lessen your exposure.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE's) Internal AGE's are formed when excess glucose molecules adhere themselves to the protein strands wrapped around fats in the bloodstream. This may not sound devastating, but these protein strands enable the fat cells to move easily through the watery blood stream. When glucose attaches to these strands they reach out to yet another protein, adhering the two together. When this happens between multiple fats in the blood stream LDL cholesterol rises. When clumps of fats stick to capillary walls arteriosclerosis begins. When the proteins of the skin are glued together in this way, wrinkles form. AGEs can be kept low in the body by keeping glucose levels at a healthy low so these reactive molecules don't have the chance to wreak havoc on the body.

According to the leading researcher on AGE's, Professor Helen Vlassara, M.D. of Mount Sanai Medical School, the most significant sources of AGE's are from the food we ingest and cigarette smoking. AGE's are formed in foods by exposure to heat and formation increases exponentially based increasing temperature and length of exposure to heat. The biggest culprits are animal fats cooked at high temperatures, but even plant foods can contain AGEs if they are cooked to the point of browning or crisping.

Lower your exposure to AGEs:

* Avoid foods cooked at high temps; frying, grilling, and baking at high temps.
* Choose cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, or baking under 250?F.
* Refrain from eating foods that are cooked to a crisp, charred, or blackened.
* Eat more plant based, raw foods (uncooked they contain negligible if any AGEs)

Acrylamide A team of researchers in Sweden studying exposure to acrylamide (an industrial chemical) in the workplace, discovered that acrylamide is present in the bloodstream of those who eat certain cooked foods. Their findings revealed that acrylamide is formed whenever foods that contain the amino acid asparagine and any reactive carbohydrate are heated above 248?F. Acrylamide causes DNA damage, neurological and reproductive damage, and is a probable carcinogen. It is worth mentioning that the EPA deems the maximum safe level of acrylamide in a single liter of water to be 0.12 micrograms. A large serving of McDonalds French fries contain 82 micrograms, more than 683 times the acceptable level. This is due to the high content of asparagine in potatoes.

Lower your exposure to Acrylamide:

* Eliminate acrylamide creation in foods, especially potatoes, by cooking foods at temperatures below 248?F.
* Remember that water boils, or turns to steam, at 212?F which makes steaming or boiling the preferred cooking method for potatoes (and any asparagine-containing foods such as asparagus, wheat, sweet potatoes, etc).
* The smoke point for ALL cooking oils is much higher than 248?F, which means that eliminating ALL fried foods that contain asparagine is advisable.
* Avoiding potato chips, French fries, as well as breads and cereals that are cooked above 248?F will significantly lower your acrylamide exposure.
* Foods on the raw foods diet contain no acrylamide.

Heterocyclic Amines This cooked food toxin is formed when creatine and amino acids are cooked at temperatures above 302?F. If you know anything about muscles and muscle building, you probably know that both creatine and amino acids are found in muscle tissue. That means that whenever you consume muscle meats from animals, (and what cut of meat isn't a muscle?) you are being exposed to this mutagenic and carcinogenic toxin. Plant sources occur at much lower levels and only when food is browned or charred.

Lower your exposure to Heterocyclic Amines:

* Eliminate exposure by removing muscle meats from your diet and not cooking foods above 302?F.
* Lower your exposure by cooking meats at low temperatures, for example a beef stew cooked in crock pot at low temps instead of a steak cooked well done on a grill.
* Increase the amount of raw foods because raw fruits and vegetables do not contain any heterocyclic amines AND they have the added benefit of containing cancer fighting antioxidants, and fiber to help your body move foods, such as muscle meats, through the digestive tract more quickly and efficiently.

Nitrosamines These known carcinogens are an accepted evil in processed foods, especially in meats like hot dogs, sausages, bacon and sandwich meats. Nitrosamines are formed when the preservatives nitrites or nitrates combine with amino acids and are exposed to high heat such as grilling or frying or to the acid in the stomach. The formation is known, but accepted because the nitrites and nitrates prevent botulism, a highly deadly bacteria to humans. Nitrates and nitrites are also found in processed cheese products, pickling salts, no-fat powdered milk, beer, and livestock feed.

Lower your exposure to Nitrosamines:

* Eliminate nitrate and nitrate containing foods from your diet, including animal meats that are not exclusively grass fed.
* If you choose to eat nitrosamine forming foods, do so with foods that are high in vitamin C and or Vitamin E which can offset damage and possibly block formation of these toxins in stomach acid.
* Eat a high raw diet with more raw foods, living produce, nuts and seeds.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Called PAHs for short, these toxins occur naturally from volcanoes or fires and from man-made sources such as automobile exhaust, trash burning, cigarette smoke, fumes from cooking fires or cooking oil. We may not be able to control exposure to these carcinogens from natural sources, but we can control our exposure by reducing or eliminating the consumption of grilled or charred meats and exposure to cooking fumes.

Lower your exposure to PAHs:

* Refrain from eating meats that are grilled, blackened or charred.
* Avoid areas of high exposure to exhaust, smoke, coal, or fresh tar or asphalt.
* Do not exercise in or near any of the conditions above.
* You guessed it, eat more raw foods! Fresh fruits and vegetables are a better choice and help offset the damage PAHs can cause.

In summary... You can avoid or eliminate exposure to ALL five major cooked food toxins by switching to a raw foods diet or a high raw diet. You can decrease your exposure and increase your body's ability to remove toxins you are exposed to more efficiently by incorporating more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables into your diet. You can also decrease exposure by choosing steaming, boiling, stewing or baking at low temperatures over frying, grilling, and baking at high temps. Decrease your exposure to carcinogenic toxins while increasing your energy and loosing weight by incorporating more raw food recipes.

Author's Bio: 

Joy Houston is creator of the 'Rocking Body Raw Food' on line weight loss and detoxification program and author of The Delicious Revolution and Rocking Body Raw Food Cookbooks. She is an advocate for healthy living, raw food chef and a cooking instructor specializing in incorporating alkalizing and raw foods in the lives of busy people.

Learn more about the Rocking Body Raw Food detox and weight loss program and get a video tour at

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