Crusty foods may worsen heart problems associated with diabetes

October 23, 2012 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Crusty foods may worsen heart problems associated with diabetes

A University of Illinois study suggests avoiding cooking methods that produce the kind of crusty bits you'd find on a grilled hamburger, especially if you have diabetes and are therefore at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cooking methods that create a crust -- think the edge of a cookie or the crispy borders of meats cooked at high temperatures -- produce advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are associated with plaque formation, the kind seen in cardiovascular disease. AGEs, byproducts 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,

For years nutrition experts have advised people with diabetes to bake, broil, or grill their food instead of frying it. Consuming products containing AGEs may worsen the cardiovascular complications of diabetes.

In the study, the scientists compared the 10-day food intake of 65 study participants in two ethnic groups: Mexicans (who have higher rates of diabetes and a greater risk of complications from the disease) and non-Hispanic whites.

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.

The study showed that non-Hispanic whites had a higher intake of AGEs, and they consumed more saturated fats. However, the association between AGEs and cardiovascular disease was stronger than for saturated fats and heart disease.

Eating less saturated fat and more fruits, vegetables, and fibre are important for people with diabetes, but this study shows that food preparation may be important too.

AGEs are higher in any kind of meat, but especially in ground meat. If you put hamburgers on the grill, you'll likely have a higher AGEs content than if you chose a whole cut of meat like a steak.

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

The scientists said more research is needed before definite recommendations can be made. They are planning another study in which they'll examine past AGEs intake of diabetes patients.

Source:  International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition

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