According to the U.K. government scientists, you should cook your toast and potatoes to a golden color, not browned, in order to reduce the intake of a chemical that may increase the chance of having cancer. Acrylamide is a natural byproduct of the cooking process and not deliberately added to food. Acrylamide is formed when you heat certain foods, such as starch foods like potatoes and root vegetables, as reported by professor Guy Poppy, chief scientific adviser to the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency.
These foods form acrylamide when cooked to above 120 degrees. Other foods that have high levels of acrylamide are potato chips, cakes, cookies, cereals and some coffee. Acrylamide exposure to cancer has been linked through studies in rats, according to the National Cancer Institute. The National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have evidence from human studies that acrylamide is a “probably human carcinogen.”
According to Diane Benford, head of risk assessment at the Food Standards Agency, the current levels of acrylamide that are found in our present diet are higher than they are comfortable with. They are encouraging the industry to try to reduce acrylamide levels in processed foods and wish to raise the awareness among consumers of the things they could do to help reduce their exposure to acrylamide in food.
Some easy steps we can all take to reduce acrylamide at home are:
- Go for the golden yellow color or lighter when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods.
- Check the package for cooking instructions and follow them carefully.
- Don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge if you are going to roast or fry them as this can increase the overall acrylamide levels. Cool instead in a dark, cool place at temperatures above 42 degrees.
- Keep a varied and balanced diet that includes at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
By re-evaluating the way we cook our starchy foods it just might prevent our body from being exposed to the increased risk of cancer. We also want to be reminded that starchy foods are carbohydrates that convert to sugar….the food cancer loves most.
Dr Fredda Branyon