In case you haven’t heard yet, there are compounds found in protein and fat-rich foods that may be causing more than just insulin resistance and diabetes. These products of protein or fat crosslinking with sugars are called advanced glycation end products or AGEs. Their clinical history is damning to say the least:
Clarke RE, Dordevic AL, Tan SM, Ryan L, Coughlan MT. Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products and Risk Factors for Chronic Disease: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2016;8(3):125. doi:10.3390/nu8030125.
It is a big reason why you want to fry less and why we should reserve grilling and the barbecue for that annual cookout or get-together. High heat cooking combined with the right, or, in this case, wrong ingredients can generate large amounts of these AGEs in just a minute or two. Here is a list of over 540 foods and their content:
URIBARRI J, WOODRUFF S, GOODMAN S, et al. Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010;110(6):911-16.e12. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018.
While it may appear that meat and cheese are the biggest players in AGE formation, it is important to remember that the AGE molecules we form endogenously or within our bodies are by far the greatest threat. Fructose and fructose-rich sweeteners are truly public enemy number one. In addition to forming AGE molecules, fructose generates methylglyoxal, a highly toxic substance to our mitochondria and a substance that has been shown to damage our pancreatic beta cells (responsible for producing insulin). Fruit, in moderation, is generally not a problem. Fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates on the other hand are.
The best way to avoid both endogenous and exogenous AGEs is to prepare meats, fish, and poultry with tomato sauce or lemon juice. This might mean that you stew meat with tomatoes or other vegetables or that you marinate poultry in lemon or lime juice prior to baking. The use of herbs such as rosemary can also inhibit AGE formation in cooking and turmeric offers considerable protection as well. Avoid blackened and browned meats, fish, and poultry. When it comes to carbohydrate-based foods, always avoid agave as it is one of the richest sources of fructose and methylglyoxal as well. Don’t consider fruit juice sweetened foods as “natural”. The process of cooking down fruit juice into a highly concentrated sweetener is anything but natural.
John Bagnulo MPH, PhD. - Director of Nutrition