Stay away from the grill

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Copy of sa stew in potjie INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS More traditional cooking methods, such as boiling or stewing meat, did not carry the risk. Picture: Steve Lawrence

London - For many of us, there’s nothing quite like a nice juicy burger.

But new research suggests it could be bad for the heart – particularly if you have diabetes.

Scientists at the University of Illinois say cooking methods that create a crust – the crispy borders of meats prepared at very high temperatures – produce proteins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

These are associated with plaque formation in the arteries, which hardens them and increases the risk of a heart attack.

More traditional cooking methods, such as boiling or stewing meat, did not carry the risk.

The worry is that diabetics are already at an increased risk of heart disease because it accelerates the damage of the blood vessels in our body, especially the heart.

It also accelerates the formation of plaque, causing the arteries to narrow.

Heart disease and stroke are the top causes of death and disability among type two diabetics. At least 65 percent of them die from some form of heart disease or stroke.

“Diabetics have been advised for years to bake, broil, or grill their food instead of frying it,” said lead researcher Karen Chapman-Novakofski, a professor of nutrition.

“That’s still true, but if you have diabetes, you should know that AGEs – by-products of food preparation methods that feature very high, intense, dry heat – tend to end up on other tissues in the body, causing long-term damage.”

“AGEs are higher in any kind of meat, but especially in ground meat,” she added.

“If you put hamburgers on the grill, you’ll likely have a higher AGEs content than if you chose a whole cut of meat, say round steak or chicken.”

If you’re fighting this build-up of plaque anyway, consuming products containing AGEs could worsen the cardiovascular complications of diabetes.

In the study, the scientists compared the 10-day food intake of 65 study participants.

They found that people with higher rates of cardiovascular complications ate more of these glycated products. For each unit increase in AGEs intake, a study participant was 3.7 times more likely to have moderate to high risk for cardiovascular disease.

Eating less saturated fat and more fruits, vegetables, and fibre is important for people with diabetes, but this study shows that food preparation may be important too, added professor Chapman-Novakofski.

Boiling or stewing meat would reduce your AGEs intake further. And scrambling an egg with cooking spray instead of frying it led to a significant reduction in AGEs, she said.

However, more research is needed before definite recommendations can be made. Professor Chapman-Novakofski and her colleagues are planning another study in which they will examine past AGEs intake of diabetes patients.

“These findings are preliminary, but they give us ample reason to further explore the association between AGEs and cardiovascular risk among people with diabetes.”

The study is published online in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition. – Daily Mail

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