Trying to make anti-inflammatory recipes? If so, cooking in a way that lowers AGEs (advanced glycation end products) is definitely something you need to know about.
What are AGEs?
AGEs are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. This process is called glycation. AGEs are also sometimes called “glycotoxins” because they trigger inflammation that damages cells.
Highly pro-inflammatory, AGEs have been linked to a number of different chronic diseases (1–6). The formation of AGEs is part of normal metabolism and accelerates as we age. However, if excessively high levels of AGEs are reached within your body, they promote inflammation and speed up the aging process (2).
In addition to AGEs that form within the body, they also exist in the foods we eat. AGEs are naturally present in uncooked animal foods. However, cooking results in the formation of new AGEs within the animal foods you eat. Although Clean Cuisine is not a vegan diet, AGEs are one of the reasons we encourage a plant-heavy and lower animal food diet.
Research shows a significant reduction in the intake of AGEs can be achieved by modifying the types of foods you eat. Increasing your consumption of fish, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can help reduce your intake of AGEs. You also want to reduce your intake of solid fats (such as butter), fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods. If you have our book or are familiar with our clean eating food pyramid, you know this advice is inline with the anti-inflammatory diet we promote.
3 Cooking Tips for Making Anti-Inflammatory Recipes
When trying to reduce inflammation, eating clean and following an anti-inflammatory diet is not the only thing you need to worry about. Knowing how to prepare your foods properly is every bit as important.
As mentioned above, AGEs accumulate naturally as you age but are also created when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures. It is good to know that your body has the ability to eliminate AGEs with antioxidants and enzymes (3, 4). Of course this means it is also essential to eat a diet rich in plenty of raw fruits and vegetables in order to get the AGE-fighting antioxidants and enzymes your body needs. (As a side note, the number one biggest diet mistake people make is not eating anywhere near the amount of fruits and vegetables they should!)
In addition to eating more plants and less animals, there are also three cooking tips you can apply to reduce your consumption of AGEs by as much as 50% in one month….
How to Reduce the Formation of AGEs with Anti-Inflammatory Recipes
- Add Moisture and Reduce the Heat. Any form of high-heat cooking—such as grilling, broiling, frying or roasting–will greatly increase AGEs. High-heat cooking is also causes a loss of nutrients. Virtually all nutrients in food are susceptible to damage from heat. This includes key nutrients that naturally help your body reduce AGEs (such as enzymes and antioxidants.) Moist-heat cooking–such as poaching, stewing and braising–will help keep the formation of AGEs to a minimum. Consider one serving of chicken. It will contain 600 AGE kilounits (kU) to 1,000 kU when it is stewed or braised, but up to 6,000 kU when roasted or grilled. That’s a BIG difference!
- Add Flavonoid-Rich Foods and Spices When You Eat Animal Foods (Chicken, Meat, Fish). Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds that appear to activate enzymes that deactivate AGEs. In other words, flavonoids pretty much stop the formation of AGEs. It is important to note, plant foods are the only source of flavonoids. Plant foods rich in flavonoids include apples, berries, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, lemons, etc. Green tea is also very rich in flavonoids. Adding spices and herbs such as turmeric, cinnamon, parsley, rosemary, oregano and sage is also an effective (and tasty!) way to boost your flavonoid intake when trying to make anti-inflammatory recipes.
- Use an Acidic Marinade for Meat and Chicken. Acidic ingredients used in marinades such as lemon juice, wine and vinegar greatly inhibit AGE formation. Depending on the thickness of the meat or chicken, you will want to marinate it for one to two hours. This will reduce AGEs by up to 50%. This recipe for an Argentinian Chimichura Sauce looks like it would be an amazing marinade for chicken or beef, by the way. Not only is the Chimichura sauce acidic, it also contains flavonoids (from the parsley and oregano.)
When trying to reduce inflammation, eating clean and following an anti-inflammatory diet is not the only thing you need to worry about. The three cooking tips above are really so simple, but they can definitely make a big impact in helping reduce inflammation in your body.
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