When bad foods become really bad

Making decisions about what foods to consume when it comes to our health, can be very simple, yet extremely complicated at the same time. We know the bad foods for obvious reasons, but often times there is more to the story. Knowing the really good foods from the really bad foods becomes especially important when choosing foods for specific reasons like disease prevention, or treatment.

The following information is a great example of something that we know is on the “bad” list, but gets moved onto the “really bad” list when consumption for health vs. disease prevention is the immediate focus.

Really bad

Acrylamide appears when we cook certain foods. Acrylamide is classified by the World Health Organization as a proven carcinogen for humans. Acrylamide is a chemical compound formed when certain foods are heated to high temperatures. The naturally occurring sugars combine with certain amino acids in the foods creating a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction, which produces acrylamide. This is highly carcinogenic if acrylamide reacts with the amino acid asparagine.

Potato Chips

Asparagine makes up 40% of all of the amino acids in potato chips, compared to 14% in wheat flour and 18 % in high protein rye flour. Processed foods like French fries, potato chips, and butter crackers, along with teething biscuits for babies, test extremely high in acrylamide.

The amino acid asparagine is found in animal sources such as dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and seafood. Plant sources of asparagine are asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, and whole grains.

To avoid the carcinogenic reaction that creates acrylamide, avoid cooking these foods at high temps over 280 degrees Fahrenheit.

Photo credit: edlundco.com

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