Atherosclerosis: narrowing of the arteries as a result of plaque build-up
1. Cooking at high temperatures using dry-heat methods
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formation is increased when you use dry-heat methods to cook food at a high temperature. AGEs are proteins and fats that combine with sugars in a process known as glycation, meaning diabetics are at an even higher risk with their high blood sugar levels. These harmful compounds lead to issues such as clogged blood vessels and cause proteins in blood vessels to cross-link, leading to stiffening of the arteries. AGEs essentially form a barrier so more force is needed to transport blood through the arteries and this is called ‘high blood pressure’.
- Use a frying pan instead of a barbecue to reduce your exposure to AGEs
- Cook mainly by steaming, stewing, boiling, or poaching instead of grilling, roasting, frying, toasting, searing or baking
- Reduce the length of cooking time
2. Eating a lot of meat
AGEs occur naturally in foods, but the vast majority are found in meats due to their high protein and fat contents, resulting in a higher likelihood of AGE formation during cooking. However, vegetarians are not safe either as French fries and potato chips also put you at risk.
- Reduce your intake of beef, as this has one of the higher AGE contents
- Use acidic foods such as lemon juice in marinades to reduce the formations of AGEs
3. Not eating enough antioxidants from fruits and vegetables
AGEs cause oxidative stress in the body, therefore consuming fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants will offer protection (read more about how antioxidants work in our other blog post here). Antioxidants will help to eliminate AGEs, but it is important to ensure you do not have a high level of AGEs to begin with.
- Look for red/purple coloured fruits and vegetables as these have the highest amount of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant with an extensive list of benefits (read more about anthocyanin here)