Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) form in the bloodstream when protein or fat combine with sugar.
AGEs are also formed at high temperatures following a chemical reaction between sugars and fats or proteins.
It’s effectively the browning effect that cooking has on meats, baked products and toasted bread!
AGEs are highly oxidative compounds, meaning that they can cause oxidative stress and inflammation, damaging our cells.
This can promote the development of diabetes and other chronic diseases including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, liver and kidney diseases and Alzheimer’s. AGEs are also implicated in premature ageing!
Your body can cope with low levels of AGEs with the support of antioxidants and enzymes. However when levels reach too high they can become harmful.
Dry heat cooking such as frying, grilling, baking, BBQ, searing, toasting and roasting.
Cooking at higher temperatures with low moisture levels
Animal-foods which are high in protein and fat such as meat (especially red meat), higher fat cheeses and dairy products (butter, cream).
Margarine and oils
Nuts (can and should be eaten in moderation!)
Highly processed foods (prevalent in our modern diet).
Moist heat (boiling, poaching, stewing, soups and steaming)
Shorter cooking times
Cooking at lower temperatures with higher moisture levels
Marinating meat in acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar
Low fat milk and dairy
Studies in humans have shown increased insulin sensitivity, decreased body weight and lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation when restricting AGEs.
Here are a few interesting facts from Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (June 2010):
- Cooking with butter led to higher AGEs than cooking with oils.
- Roast chicken had 4 times the amount of AGEs as poached or steamed chicken!
- Beef marinated in lemon juice and vinegar formed less than half the amount of AGEs during cooking.
6 tips to reduce your levels of AGEs!
Use acidic marinades based on lemon juice and vinegar to marinate meats before cooking.
Use low temperature moist cooking methods such as stewing, boiling, poaching and boiling.
Avoid high temperature dry cooking methods such as grilling, frying, roasting.
Increase fish, legumes, low-fat milk products, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains.
Reduce intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products and highly processed foods.
Move more! Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with a higher amount of AGEs.
Here is a marinade you may use for chicken:
250g chicken breasts
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup coconut sugar
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place chicken breasts in an oven dish and pierce them with a fork.
Cover with the marinade and stir it all around. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but up to 4 to 5 hours is best.
Preheat the oven to 180 and bake for 18 minutes.