Is dry-heat cooking good or bad for your health?

July 11, 2020

CHANGING the way you cook could help reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

A new study suggests that boiling, steaming and poaching are the safest way to go.

Researchers said that when you fry, grill or bake foods -- also called dry-heat cooking -- foods produce substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Higher levels of AGEs have been linked to insulin resistance, stress on the body's cells and inflammation, according to the study authors. These are troublemakers in terms of diabetes risk.

Insulin is a hormone that helps blood sugar from food get into cells for energy. Without insulin, or with insulin resistance, too much sugar remains in the blood. This can lead to serious problems for the heart, eyes, kidneys and other organs.

The researchers believed that a regular Western diet, which is generally high in AGEs, might contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes. So for the study, they randomly assigned study participants to one of two diet groups. The regular-AGE diet group included 49 people; the low-AGE diet group had 51. Participants had at least two of the following five health concerns (or were on medications for these problems): a large waist circumference (40 inches for men, 35 for women); high blood pressure; low HDL (good) cholesterol; high triglycerides (another type of blood fat); or elevated fasting blood sugar levels.

Those in the low-AGE group were given instructions on how to lower the AGE content in their foods. They were told to avoid frying, baking or grilling foods. Instead, they were encouraged to boil, steam, stew or poach their meals -- in other words, cook with water.

Some examples of the changes made included substituting boiled eggs for fried eggs, poached chicken instead of grilled chicken, or beef stew instead of grilled steak, according to the study.

They asked the study participants not change the types of foods they ate, just the preparation of those foods. They also were instructed to try to eat the same amount of calories a day. A dietitian checked in with the low-AGE group twice a week, and met with each person every three months to review their cooking methods and to encourage low-AGE cooking.

The regular-AGE group was instructed to continue cooking as they already did. The study lasted one year.

They found that body weight dropped slightly in the low-AGE group, and no side effects were seen. Thus researchers suggest that cooking more with low-AGE methods is much betterthe better.

Other nutritionists proposed to include vegetables and other plant foods for healthy changes.