5 top ways to reduce your AGEs

There’s an  unfamiliar culprit lurking on the disease front these days –advanced glycation end products (AGEs).  AGEs   have been riding under the radar for most people but not so in scientific circles. Researchers have been investigating these substances and the increased risk for a range of diseases in those with diabetes.  But more and more research is pointing to their being a potential cause in the development of the disease in the first place.

These compounds, considered a class of toxins,  have  not only been associated with the development of insulin resistance  and diabetes but also a growing assortment of ills including inflammation, cardiovascular, kidney and   Alzheimer’s disease.

The concern about AGEs has been increasing because they may not only increase the risk of diabetes itself but may also be produced in larger quantities in those with the disease.

Our modern food style, which contains many heat-processed products, provides more AGEs than ever before.  Earlier research suggested that these dietary sources were not well absorbed so little attention was given to their role in chronic disease development. But now science is showing that this is not the case and we need to reduce our consumption of these toxic substances.

Here are 5 top ways to slash your AGEs (especially at this time of year):

•    Keep  portions of  grilled animal foods in check
As animal foods, such as meat and poultry, cooked on the grill, are major sources of AGEs, consider adding more colourful vegetables and fruit  to your BBQ.  Not only do they contain fewer of these compounds, they’re chock full of antioxidants and can help to counter some of the pro-oxidant effects of the AGEs. FYI – seafood tends to be lower in AGEs.

•    Use acidic marinades when grilling
Studies show that  when barbecuing, using  marinades,  such as those containing lemon juice or vinegars,  decreases the production  of carcinogenic substances like  PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons),  these tangy offerings also lessen the AGEs content.

•    Use a variety of cooking techniques
For foods that can take a long time on the grill,  such as chicken on the bone, partially cook them at a lower temperature first and then grill them. That way, they are exposed to the high temperatures for a shorter time period  and  produce fewer AGEs.

•    Consider slow food techniques
Poaching, steaming or stewing foods can be palate-pleasing alternatives, especially when tasty seasonings and accompaniments are used. For example, poaching chicken breasts in a flavourful rich broth can easily match a grilled one taste wise. A slow cooker is a super way to prepare meals from scratch at lower cooking temperatures  and minimize your intake of processed foods at the same time.

•    Minimize your intake of fried foods
OK- you already knew that fried foods weren’t the best option but when you  look at the whopping totals of AGEs in these foods, it’s yet another reason to not make them everyday choices. For example, compare the over 1500 AGEs count in a serving of fast food fries versus the 17 in a boiled potato.


Have you heard of AGEs before? What’s your take on these compounds?

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Categories: Research Roundup, Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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