Warning about fried foods: High levels of acrylamide can trigger cancer cell growth

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french-fries(NaturalHealth365)  Are you a lover of fried foods?  You may want to consider how much acrylamide you’re consuming each day.  In fact, many health experts are sounding the alarm about eating anything fried in vegetable oil – especially due to its link with promoting cancer. (keep reading to learn more)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has designated acrylamide a probable carcinogen. Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in certain foods when exposed to high levels of heat during cooking or processing. It is present in the highest levels in fried foods (which often also contain high levels of trans fats), but this “probable carcinogen” is also present in some foods that might surprise you.

The Maillard reaction in fried foods can lead to the formation of acrylamide

While acrylamide has been occurring in foods since humans began cooking, the compound itself wasn’t discovered until 2002. It is related to something called the Maillard reaction during cooking, which is an interaction between carbohydrates and proteins at the chemical level when they are heated. It is this reaction that makes potato chips crisp and gives bread its golden-brown crust. However, in some conditions, the Maillard reaction can give rise to the presence of acrylamide.

The food with the highest levels of acrylamide is potato chips, especially the sweet varieties. While regular potato chips have around 2,000 ppm (parts per million) of acrylamide, sweet potato chips contain around double that.

Those golden-brown deep fried French fries are another major culprit of high acrylamide levels, but so are graham crackers, ginger snaps and other packaged cookies. Boxed cereals like corn flakes also contain acrylamide.

Acrylamide linked with higher risk of cancer in both rodents and humans

Studies regarding the cancer-causing effects of acrylamide on rodents have shown that it is a definite carcinogen in these animals. In a major review of acrylamide studies with humans published in 2014 in Nutrition and Cancer, six of 26 studies showed that persons consuming the highest levels of the compound showed a higher risk of cancer.

Foods that pose the highest potential risk for acrylamide content are those made from starchy foods like potatoes and grains cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time. Many processed foods are subject to higher levels of acrylamide, including dry cereals and packaged cookies.

We’ve known for some time that fried foods and foods that contain trans fats were unhealthy, and their acrylamide content only makes them less appealing.

More motivation to favor simple, natural foods with minimal processing

Acrylamide does not tend to form in cooked meat, fish, dairy, fruits or low-starch vegetables.  And, of course, eating whole, organic, minimally processed foods can help with limiting one’s exposure to acrylamide.  In addition, if you like, going raw or using lower-temperature cooking methods like steaming, boiling or sautéing can help, as well.

And if you didn’t have enough reasons to avoid fried foods like French fries and potato chips, processed foods, and foods that contain trans fats, now you have one more.

The top nine foods with acrylamide to avoid are:

1. French Fries
2. Potato Chips
3. Packaged Cookies and Crackers
4. Processed Dry Cereals
5. Dark-Crusted or Toasted Breads
6. Toasted Nuts and Peanut Butter
7. Prune Juice
8. Canned Black Olives
9. Cocoa from Roasted Cocoa Beans







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  • Rudi E

    I think breakfast cereals are an American tradition. In other cultures they have real food for breakfast. Has anyone seen a grape nut or corn flake grow anywhere in nature?

  • Jody

    There is lots of things to eat beside cereal for breakfast. I quit eating cereal years ago. Theres lots of different kinds of fruit for example or eggs and you could even eat things you normally eat for lunch or dinner

  • John

    I usually don’t eat breakfast. That’s one way to solve it-intermittent fasting. Also, how can you get the goodness of cocoa without the acriliymides?

    • Mari

      You can buy cocoa that hasn’t been roasted. It’s called raw cacao powder.

  • John

    This is a good attempt at identifying some problems regarding the Maillard reaction, but it does not explain it well. The maillard reaction is created from a temperature that breaks down various foods that contain sugar and/or protein. The oils it describes is a general category that needs to be explained. Avocado oil, for example has a smoke point of 520 degrees F so you can safely fry foods in that oil at around 350 to 450 degrees F and not worry about the oil breaking down as will most other vegetable oils. In fact, putting butter into the pan WITH avocado oil, the avocado oil protects the butter from breaking down at higher temps as well.

    The maillard reaction occurs when protein (amino acids) combine with sugar under high heat. That can be an issue here, but potatoes contain some sugar, but little protein, and if you fry the potato strips you make from a raw Russet potato at a lower temperature around 300 to 350 F in avocado oil, watching the potato color making sure you don’t get “browning” but starting to get crisp, then sprinkle the potatoes with air dried sea salt, it makes for a great treat to eat that is good for you. The indication a maillard reaction has occurred is the “BROWNING” that takes place as it is cooking.

    The maillard reaction is a carcinogenic reaction because the combination of sugar and proteins (amino acids) alter’s the molecular structure that your body does not recognize due to the altered resonance of both the sugar and amino acids.

  • John

    You can make your own cereals from Psyllium husks, and other seeds and nuts. Grinding up nuts and seeds and then fermenting them is a wonderful way to get rid of anti-nutrients and allow them to unlock some incredible nutrient values. RAW MILK or Yogurt with no sugar added you make is a wonderful nutritious meal especially when you add the ground up nuts and seeds in to a powder form. Grind up some Brazil nuts and add that to home made yogurt! Of course, homemade cottage cheese from raw milk (only from a grass fed cow) with pineapple chunks (and juice from pineapple) makes for a wonderful treat as well.

  • John

    What is not well explained in this article is the food preparation, smoke points of oils, and how your body digests foods based on what to look for in terms of the maillard reaction. “BROWNING” is the key here. It’s always good to reduce ALL sugar from your diet, but many foods have sugar in them that are not harmful and break down nicely in the body in a limited quantity. It is the combination of proteins and sugars with HEAT that is the bad combination.

  • Charma1ne

    Some surprising items on the list. An explanation of why prune juice and black olives are on the list would be interesting. Thank you.