"Advanced glycation endproducts" - ouch, sounds pretty intimidating, doesn't it?
For short they are called AGEs, and they're important to know about if only to reinforce good habits of choosing and preparing foods to eat.
AGEs are produced in small amounts by the body during its normal course of activity, but foods contain them, too. In high concentrations AGEs can be bad for us. They appear to contribute to inflammatory changes that can lead to chronic illness, especially the kind of illness associated with older age.
Researchers recently looked into this problem to determine what kinds of food might contain the most AGEs. Results were published in the June, 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The investigators found that whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy had some of the lowest levels of AGEs. Animal protein (meat) had higher levels, but could be made healthier simply by marinating the meat for one hour in a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar (many marinades use this combination together with spices).
Thus, cooking technique has a lot to do with the generation of harmful AGEs.
"Dry" cooking techniques such as grilling, broiling, frying, and roasting make for really tasty meals but they aren't as healthy for us as are cooking techniques like steaming, poaching, stewing and boiling. The latter maintain moisture in food and use lower temperatures, both of which are important with respect to lessening the generation of AGEs.
If you're going to enjoy meat cooked under high temperatures and dry conditions be sure to marinate it for at least an hour. To further limit buildup of AGEs within your body focus meals around plenty of clean fresh vegeatbles, fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
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