By Dr. Mercola
Approximately 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, and food marketers do a masterful job at making it seem like fast foods and junk foods are the obvious choice.
Some even manage to make you believe such foods are a healthy option. But not only are these processed foods dead and devoid of any natural nutrition, they can also be loaded with potentially carcinogenic substances.
Just over a decade ago, researchers discovered that a cancer-causing and potentially neurotoxic chemical called acrylamide is created when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, whether baked, fried, roasted, grilled or toasted.
The chemical is formed from a reaction between sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during high-temperature cooking. The answer, of course, is to limit or eliminate processed foods and increase the amount of whole, raw foods in your diet. I typically aim for 80-85 percent raw food in my own diet.
Acrylamide May Be a Primary Hazard of Processed Food
Acrylamide can form in many foods cooked or processed at temperatures above 212°F (100°C), but carbohydrate-rich foods are the most vulnerable to this heat-induced byproduct. As a general rule, the chemical is formed when food is heated enough to produce a fairly dry and browned surface. Hence, it can be found in:
- Potatoes: chips, French fries and other roasted or fried potato foods
- Grains: bread crust, toast, crisp bread, roasted breakfast cereals and various processed snacks
- Coffee; roasted coffee beans and ground coffee powder. Surprisingly, coffee substitutes based on chicory actually contains 2-3 times more acrylamide than real coffee
Acrylamide is not the only hazard associated with heat-processed foods, however. The three-year long EU project known as Heat-Generated Food Toxicants1 (HEATOX), identified more than 800 heat-induced compounds in food, 52 of which are potential carcinogens… For example, the high heat of grilling reacts with proteins in red meat, poultry, and fish, creating heterocyclic amines, which have also been linked to cancer.
Humans are not the only victims here. As discussed by holistic veterinarian Dr. Barbara Royal, pet foods also contain acrylamide and heterocyclic amines, courtesy of commercial pet food processing methods.