Food Pharmacy

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Food Pharmacy Prescribes: Lower the Heat

We have always enjoyed eating warm food. And we mean really warm food: roasted, stir-fried, deep-fried, and grilled. Then we met Professor Stig, and we learned that throwing ourselves at blackened vegetables straight off the grill is probably not the best idea.

When we first heard about the benefits of raw food, we thought it was because food loses its nutrients if you heat it up. In order to solve the problem, we added some extra carrot and celery sticks to our plate next to the crustiest corner piece of our favorite lasagna. But after meeting Stig, we learned that there are other reasons for heating your food more gently, namely: toxins. There are about a hundred varieties of these toxins, but the better known among them is probably acrylamide. Acrylamide occurs in foods cooked at very high temperatures, for example potato chips, coffee (especially dark roast), french fries and crispbread.

High-heat cooking of food induces the formation of so called advanced glycation end products (AGE). AGEs are harmful compounds, formed when food is cooked to the point where a protein molecule bonds with a sugar molecule. Scientists call this glycation. It’s also common for a protein to bond with a fat, which is called lipoxidation, and the end products being called advanced lipoxidation products (ALE).

The intake of AGE and ALE play an important role in the causation of chronic diseases associated with underlying inflammation. Professor Stig says that to eat AGE and ALE is like smoking with your stomach. The good bacteria in the colon sink into a dark pit of despair. The bad bacteria throw up a high-five.

Does this mean we all have to become full-time raw-fooders? Not at all. Of course, the good bacteria in the colon will be delighted to encounter some raw vegetables, but you’ll be heading in the right direction if you just lower the temperature.

In the ideal world the following rules apply:

  1. Always try to avoid intense heat, as in grilling and sautéing.
  2. Try to keep the oven’s heat at under 212°F (100°C), even when preparing fish, poultry, and meat dishes.
  3. As most of us know, poultry needs to reach an inner temperature of at least 158°F (70°C). Meat, however, only needs heat between 122°F (50°C) for rare and 212°F (70°C) for well done; most fish will be at its best around 133°F (56°C).

And in the real word we’ll do as we usually do: as best we can.

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  1. Jackie Kamin write:

    Does a slow-cooker cook at a low enough temperature to avoid creating these toxins? Can you recommend some good recipes?


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