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Food Preparation may Play a Bigger Role in Chronic Disease

How your food is cooked may be as important to your health as the food itself. Researchers now know more about a new class of toxins that might soon become// as important a risk factor for heart disease and metabolic disorders as trans fats.

This class of toxins, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), are absorbed into the body through the consumption of grilled, fried, or broiled animal products, such as meats and cheeses. AGEs, which are also produced when food products are sterilized and pasteurized, have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, vascular and kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine reveals that AGE levels are elevated in the blood of healthy people, and even more so in older individuals than in younger people. Of particular interest was the finding that a major determinant of the blood levels of AGEs is the amount of AGEs in the diet, not dietary calories, sugar, or fat. The study, which was done in collaboration with, and supported by, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is published in the April issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

"AGEs are quite deceptive, since they also give our food desirable tastes and smells," says Helen Vlassara, MD, senior study author, Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging, and Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "So, consuming high amounts of grilled, broiled, or fried food means consuming significant amounts of AGEs, and AGEs in excess are toxic. People should be given information about their AGE intake and be advised to consider their intake in the same way they would think about their trans fats and salt intake. They should be warned about their AGE levels the way they are about their cholesterol levels or cigarette smoking."

Inflammation and oxidative stress are more common in older age, so the goal of the study wa
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