How to best heat your food - avoid acrylamide
I’m a big advocate for heating food carefully. I often get questions about why I’m so paranoid about the way I heat and cook my food. Well, if you know what I know, then I’m sure you’ll agree on why it’s super important. If you’re not so familiar with acrylamide, then read on for an in-depth explanation on why you want to get this right.
What is acrylamide?
Said bluntly: Acrylamide is dangerous! It is a chemical compound that has been found to occur in many cooked starchy foods. The production of acrylamide during the heating process is temperature-dependent, meaning that the levels rise as food is heated for longer periods of time. It’s not been found in raw or boiled food.
Can acrylamide cause cancer?
According to Folkehelseinstituttet, (the Norwegian health advisory institution), it’s quickly absorbed in the intestines and distributed to the rest of the organism. It heaps up in our reproductive organs and in pregnant animals it is transferred to the foetus. New epidemiological studies show a cause and effect relation between intake of acrylamide and increased risk of cancer in the ovaries and uterine. Another study proved associations between the blood level of acrylamide and breast cancer. It’s also proven that acrylamide can induce nerve damage, kidney cancer and prostate cancer.
How do I avoid acrylamide?
If you often enjoy cooked starchy foods, you should pay special attention. On this list of the 20 most acrylamide-rich foods, potatoes, cereal and cookies are all ranked high. Take a look at this! Starchy foods are almost free of acrylamide when you heat them on a temperature lower than 120 celsius. From there, the acrylamide levels rise gradually and depending on the food, it sky rockets at 160-170 celsius. I always bear this in mind whenever I cook.
Which fats should I use when cooking?
If you’re frying food, it’s best to use saturated fats like ghee or coconut oil. If I’m cooking on high temperatures, I use my home made ghee or extra virgin coconut oil. Although your olive oil may be good for you when it’s raw, a lot of vegetable oils contain trans fats which might endanger your health when heated to high temperatures. Whenever I cook on low temperatures, I use extra virgin olive oil, good organic butter or macadamia oil.
But I love my potatoes, can I still cook them in a way to avoid the acrylamide?
We don’t have potatoes all that often, but whenever I make oven baked potatoes, I cut them in big chunks and let them soak in water for about an hour (minimum 30 minutes). Why? The acrylamide level is reduced by up to 70 % if you let your potatoes soak before roasting them. Also - the acrylamide is gathered in the surfaces, and so a few big chunks is better than many small bits. I then slow roast them with ghee or olive oil on 150 celsius.
Cook your foods slowly
The key thing to take out from all this is that no matter how healthy an ingredient is to start off with, you risk destroying all of the goodness if you prepare it in the wrong way. Keep the temperature low and let your yummy foods cook slowly!
Still not sure and want to read up on this?
If your mouth got dry and hands started shaking after reading this, you’ll find some more interesting reads on acrylamide here. Some studies show associations between acrylamide and increased cancer risk, some fail to prove a connection, so you’re quite free to make up your own mind about this, but I interpret the evidence to be strong enough for me and my family to shy away from acrylamide as much as we csn.