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BBQ Chemicals

May 14, 2007

How you prepare food could be as important to your health as what you prepare.


Backing off barbecue. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Eating grilled, broiled or fried meat often could harm your health because of chemicals you’ve probably never heard of. They’re called advanced glycation end products—or AGEs—and your body makes them naturally. Scientists have known for decades that a buildup of these plays a part in chronic age-related diseases like diabetes and heart and kidney disease. But now endocrinologist Helen Vlassara of Mount Sinai School of Medicine has found that even young, healthy people can end up with high levels through their diet.

HELEN VLASSARA (Mount Sinai School of Medicine):
And we believe that the AGE levels may help us raise a red flag, so to speak, and inform people to watch what they eat and how it is prepared because in the long run and with time these products tend to accumulate in the body.

AGEs form fastest in animal products cooked dry at high heat. So stewing, boiling, and steaming can cut down on them. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.