(Natural News) If you’re eating fried food right now, you might want to put your fork down. Many health experts warn that the consumption of foods fried in vegetable oil is associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Acrylamide, the probable carcinogen
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide is a probable carcinogen. This chemical may form in certain foods that are exposed to high levels of heat during cooking or processing. (Related: Acrylamide in Foods is a Major ‘Human Health Concern’ – International Researchers Report.)
Fried foods that contain acrylamide tend to be full of trans fats as well, but the chemical can also be found in other food products. The chemical was discovered in 2002, but it has been occurring in foods since humans started cooking.
Acrylamide is linked to a process called the Maillard reaction, which occurs when foods are cooked and there is an interaction between carbohydrates and proteins at the chemical level as they are heated. The Maillard reaction makes potato chips crisp, and it gives bread a golden-brown crust. But under certain conditions, this reaction can produce acrylamide.
The Maillard reaction is responsible for the colors and flavors of foods such as:
- The browning of bread when toasted.
- Caramel made from milk and sugar.
- The color of condensed or dried milk.
- The color of beverages like beer, chocolate, and coffee and sweeteners like maple syrup.
- The flavor of roast meat.
Out of all fried foods, potato chips have the highest levels of acrylamide. However, while regular potato chips have at least 2,000 ppm (parts per million) of acrylamide, fried sweet potato chips contain about twice that amount.
Avoid these nine foods with high levels of acrylamide:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Packaged cookies and crackers
- Processed dry cereals
- Bread with dark crusts or toasted bread
- Toasted nuts and peanut butter
- Prune juice
- Canned black olives
- Cocoa made from roasted cocoa beans
Studies that have looked in the cancer-causing effects of acrylamide on rat models have revealed that the chemical is a probable carcinogen in animals.
In a separate 2014 major review of acrylamide studies with humans, which was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, six out of 26 studies determined that individuals consuming the highest levels of the compound had a higher risk of cancer.
Foods with the highest potential risk for acrylamide content are often made from starchy foods like potatoes and grains that are cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time. Meanwhile, processed foods that may contain higher levels of acrylamide include products like dry cereals and packaged cookies.
Fried foods rich in trans fats are something you should avoid because they are bad for you. Their acrylamide content is also another thing to consider if you want to stay healthy.
Tips for avoiding acrylamide
The best way to avoid the harmful chemical acrylamide is by following a diet full of simple and natural foods with minimal processing. Acrylamide doesn’t tend to form in cooked meat, dairy, fish, fruits, or low-starch vegetables.
You can also eat more whole, organic, and minimally-processed foods to limit your exposure to acrylamide. Additionally, you can try going raw or using lower-temperature cooking methods such as boiling, sautéing, or steaming.
Instead of buying fried foods, consume more of the healthy food groups listed below.
Grains and protein
Vegetables and herbs
- Tomatoes (plum and grape)
Avoid junk food full of trans fats and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables to lower your cancer risk.