Cooking food for short periods of time, at minimum safe temperatures, may lower the risk of heart disease for diabetics according to a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers are saying that a toxic compound forms when sugar, proteins and fat are cooked for long periods of time. According to the study, this toxic compound may increase blood vessel damage for people living with diabetes.
Dr. Helen Vlassara, a diabetes researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and first author of the study, says that a compound, called "advanced glycation end products" (or "AGEs"), can cause a reaction from the body's immune system, which can eventually damage blood vessels.
Researchers say that a lifelong diet that is high in AGEs can leave the immune system in a constant state of inflammation, which can damage arteries. This arterial damage can cause heart disease and other problems that people living with diabetes are more prone to.
According to Vlassara, diabetics should also try to limit their consumption of coffee, colas and chocolate-based drinks, as they are typically high in AGEs. Colas tend to include caramelized products that are heavy in AGEs. Instead, diabetics should reach for sugar-free versions of clear sodas.
While the recent study, conducted with diabetic patients, showed AGEs decline from between 33% to 40%, more long-term studies are needed to determine fundamental changes in the health of the diabetic patients. The study included two groups of diabetics; one which consumed a normal diet that included fish, chicken and meat, and another that ate the same foods but cooked them differently. Animal studies, have already shown that a reduction in AGEs can reduce the incidence of heart disease, as well as slow it's onset.
Dr. Eugene Barrett, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and the president-elect of the ADA, said that while the study is potentially important in the control of diabetes, more research is needed to better understand the role that AGEs may play in heart disease. So while they say that dietary AGEs can be controlled by cooking foods differently, it is too soon to conclude that limiting AGEs will reduce heart disease in diabetics.
According to Vlassara, it is better to cook the food for a short amount of time in the presence of high humidity. Boiling or steaming meats for the shortest amount of time required, as well as thinly slicing meats so they cook more quickly, are suggested.
Thanksgiving turkey is typically cooked slowly over the course of several hours, so (unfortunately) many of us are just a few weeks away from enjoying a traditional dish that produces a huge amount of AGEs.
More info can be found at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website: http://www.pnas.org
Source: National Academy of Sciences