Results of Scientific Research Into Raw Foods:
List of Articles
Apple peel may be more nutritious than apple flesh for people trying to keep cancer at bay.
Drinking three glasses of fruit or vegetable juice a week could cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 75 per cent
Almonds Are Rich in Antioxidants
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Inflammation
Antioxidant Status in Long-Term Adherents to a Strict Raw Vegan Diet
Eating Cooked Food Accelerates Aging
Raw food Vegans Are Healthier
Effects of a Raw Food Diet on Hypertension and Obesity
Fruit & Vegetable Juices May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Lack of Veges & Fruit is NZ's Number 1 Killer - Ministry of Health
Acrylamide in Cooked Food
Apple peel may be more nutritious than apple flesh for people trying to keep cancer at bay.
Researchers from Cornell claim to have identified a dozen compounds called triterpenoids in apple peel that either inhibited or killed cancer cells in laboratory cultures.
"We found that several compounds have potent anti-proliferative activities against human liver, colon and breast cancer cells and may be partially responsible for the anti-cancer activities of whole apples," said Rui Hai Liu, Cornell associate professor of food science.
He and his colleagues analyzed the peel from 230 pounds of red delicious apples and isolated their individual compounds. They then tested the pure compounds against cancer cell growth.
Previous Cornell studies have shown that apples appear to fight cancer cells in the laboratory and reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats.
This latest research has led Cornell researchers to suggest that the triterpenoids may be doing much of the anti-cancer work.
"Some compounds were more potent and acted differently against the various cancer cell lines, but they all show very potent anti-cancer activities and should be studied further," said Liu.
Liu and his team have also previously identified compounds called phytochemicals - mainly flavonoids and phenolic acids - in apples and other foods that appeared to have similar anti-cancer properties and inhibit tumour growth in human breast cancer cells
"We believe that a recommendation that consumers eat five to 12 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is appropriate to reduce the risks of chronic diseases, including cancer, and to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health," concluded Liu.
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 30 May 2007, Volume 55, Issue 11, Pages 4366 – 4370,"Triterpenoids Isolated from Apple Peels Have Potent Antiproliferative Activity and May Be Partially Responsible for Apple's Anticancer Activity." Authors: R.H. Liu, X. He
"Phytochemistry: Ibuprofen-Like Activity in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil" Nature, 9/1/05, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
"Olive Oil's Anti-Inflammatory Effects" Alan R. Gaby, M.D., Healthnotes Newswire.
Did you know that mild, slightly sweet tasting fennel can provide a powerful antioxidant punch to your meal? Along with its more traditional nutrients like vitamin C and potassium, fennel contains a unique combination of phytonutrients that also provide powerful antioxidant protection. Quercitin, rutin and various kaempferol glycosides work to combat the activity of harmful free radicals that can injure cells and cell membranes. But the most fascinating phytonutrient found in fennel may be anethole, the primary component of its volatile oil, which has been found to reduce inflammation and help prevent cancer by preventing the activation of potentially gene-altering and inflammation-triggering molecules. Animal studies also have shown anethole to protect the liver from toxic chemical injury.
Eating Cooked Food Accelerates Aging - National Academy of Sciences - November 2002
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1) reveals that eating foods cooked at high temperature may increase the rate at which we age. According to this study, the ingestion of high temperature cooked foods causes chronic inflammation and the formation of accelerates the glycation process, and the subsequent formation of advanced glycation end products (A.G.E.'s).
As humans age, there is a systemic increase in inflammatory cytokines (destructive cell-signalling chemicals) that contribute to many degenerative diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is a classic disorder where excess levels of cytokines cause or contribute to the destructive inflammatory syndrome. While inflammatory cytokines can cause agonizing pain, they also disrupt the linings of our arteries, mutate DNA and degrade brain cells. Chronic inflammation is directly involved in diseases as diverse as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, aortic valve stenosis, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease and kidney impairment.
In aging people with multiple degenerative diseases, we often find elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein, indicating the presence of an inflammatory disorder. When a cytokine blood profile is conducted in these individuals, we usually discover excess levels of one or more of the pro-inflammatory cytokines. The most common pro-inflammatory cytokines are tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, interleukin-1(b) and/or interleukin-8.
Chronic inflammation inflicts devastating effects, especially as humans grow older. The lethal consequences of inflammation are clearly established in the medical literature.(2-14) The good news is raw fruits and vegetables suppress the production of these deadly inflammatory cytokines. As you will soon read, avoiding foods cooked at very high temperatures can also reduce production of inflammatory cytokines.
Age-accelerating effects of glycation and how glycation cooks us to death
The other pathological aging mechanism exacerbated by eating high temperature cooked food is the formation of advanced glycation end products (A.G.E.'s).The glycation process that turns a chicken brown in the oven is exactly what happens to the proteins in our body as we age. Glycation can be described as the binding of a protein molecule to a glucose molecule resulting in the formation of damaged protein structures. When body proteins react with sugars they turn brown and fluorescent, lose elasticity and cross-link to form insoluble masses that generate free radicals. The resulting advanced glycation end products (glycotoxins) accumulate in our collagen and skin, cornea, brain and nervous system, arteries and vital organs as we age. Many age-related diseases such as arterial stiffening, cataract and neurological impairment are at least partially attributable to glycation. As these degraded proteins accumulate, they cause cells to emit signals that induce the production of inflammatory cytokines. Unfortunately, glycotoxins are highly resistant to the normal processes of protein turnover and renewal that maintain the healthy tone of youthful body tissues and organs. How does the body cope with these chronic assaults on proteins? Long-lived cells, such as neurons and muscle cells, contain high levels of a dipeptide called carnosine, made up of histidine and beta-alanine. Unlike ordinary antioxidants, carnosine blocks numerous pathways involved in the glycation process.
A more succinct descriptive term for "advanced glycation end products" is "glycotoxin", since "advanced glycation end products" are toxic to the body. We will use the word "glycotoxin" from here on to describe the term "advanced glycation end products".
Cooking and Aging Have Similar Biological Properties
Cooking foods at high temperatures results in a "browning" effect, where sugars and certain oxidized fats react with proteins to form glycotoxins in the food. Normal aging can also be regarded as a slow cooking process, since these same glycotoxins form in the skin, arteries, eye lenses, joints, cartilage, etc. of our body. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study shows that consuming foods high in glycotoxins might be responsible for the induction of a low-grade, but chronic state of inflammation. In addition, the glycotoxins in food cooked at high temperatures also promote the formation of glycotoxins in our living tissues. The implication of these findings is profound.
Feeding Foods Rich in Glycotoxins to Diabetics
The presence of glycotoxins in the blood of individuals with diabetes has been known for quite some time.15 To ascertain reasons for this, a group of diabetics were studied to assess the difference between consuming a diet high in glycotoxins compared to diet low in glycotoxins. The high glycotoxin diet was induced by heating food for a longer period at higher temperatures compared to the lower glycotoxin diet. Using a variety of foods, the scientists were able to increase the glycotoxin content five-fold by cooking the food at high temperatures. After only two weeks, diabetics on the high glycotoxin diet showed a 50% to 100% increase of glycotoxins in their blood and urine compared to the group consuming the low glycotoxin diet. The group eating the high glycotoxin food also showed increased levels of inflammatory blood markers such C-reactive protein and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor alpha. In order to determine whether these significant changes were merely an acute response to an altered diet, the scientists carried out a second study that lasted for six weeks. Again, those consuming a diet high in glycotoxins had higher concentrations of glycotoxins in their bodies, along with increased inflammatory cytokines in their blood.
Small Changes in Food Preparation Methods and Diet Can Slow Aging
Researchers at the Department of Geriatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine have determined that A.G.E.'s or glycotoxins are found in foods that are overheated or cooked at very high temperatures. This includes foods that have been fried, barbecued, broiled or cooked in the microwave. While the worst culprits are animal products, since they contain a higher amount of "bad" fats that speed up the formation of glycotoxins, any food that is exposed to extreme high heat can scorch the natural sugars in food and create glycotoxins. This also true of many pre-packed foods that have been preserved, pasteurized, homogenized or refined, such as white flour, cake mixes, dried milk, dried eggs, dairy products including pasteurized milk, and canned or frozen pre-cooked meals. While it may be impossible to totally avoid glycotoxins, it is possible to reduce exposure by changing the way food is prepared. First, make diet changes by adding more fresh raw fruits and raw vegetables and other raw foods to your diet. Consider steaming, boiling, poaching, stewing, stir-frying or using a slow cooker for any cooked foods you consume. These methods not only cook foods with a lower amount of heat, they create more moisture during the cooking process. According to Dr. Helen Vlassara, the study's lead researcher, water or moisture can help delay the reactions that lead to glycotoxins. Marinating foods in olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and dry wines can also help.
The researchers also found that eating diets low in glycotoxins reduced the level of other potentially harmful substances in the blood, including LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"). During the two-week, low-glycotoxin diet, diabetics had lower LDL levels than those on a high-glycotoxin diet. A six-week, low-glycotoxin diet caused a 33% reduction of LDL, while a high-glycotoxin diet increased LDL by 32%.
Aging Control, Calorie Restriction, Weight Loss and Cancer
This study on human diabetics raises intriguing possibilities of preventing disease and slowing aging via proper food preparation. First of all, previous studies have shown that caloric restriction prolongs life span in rodents while simultaneously decreasing glycotoxin formation in body tissues.(16) There is now considerable evidence that the same glycotoxin formation that occurs during cooking also occurs inside the body during normal aging(17) and at an accelerated rate in diabetics.(18) For example, glycotoxins accumulate faster in the skin collagen of diabetics compared to non-diabetics.(19) We also know that glycotoxins engage cell receptors in such as way as to promote tumour growth and metastasis (via mechanisms that stimulate cell migration, tumour cell growth factors and enzymes that digest the extracellular matrix).(20)
While this study on human diabetics is preliminary and needs confirmatory results in healthy populations, there were other benefits associated with consuming a low glycotoxin diet. Not only did the diabetics consuming the low glycotoxin diet lose weight, but their blood glucose levels also dropped. In the group eating the high glycotoxin diet, blood glucose levels increased. Elevated glucose levels can trigger production of deadly inflammatory cytokines.
It should be noted that the number of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fat was the same in both the high and low glycotoxin diets. The diabetics consuming the low glycotoxin diet, however, lost weight. It is well known that reducing excess weight and glucose levels confers longer life.
What You Can Do
What one eats plays a major role in chronic inflammatory processes. Consuming low glycemic foods reduces the insulin surge that contributes to chronic inflammatory processes. It is also important to avoid over consumption of foods high in arachidonic acid (beef, egg yolk, dairy, etc.). We now know that eating too much over cooked food causes an increase in inflammatory cytokines. Since most "junk" foods are cooked at extremely high temperatures, it makes sense to avoid french fries, hamburgers, potato chips, fried food and other snacks. These foods not only contain lots of glycotoxins, but they also create other metabolic disorders that can induce degenerative disease. Avoiding foods cooked at high temperature not only reduces pathological glycation processes, but also prevents the formation of numerous gene-mutating toxins that are known carcinogens. When food is cooked at high temperatures, deadly gene-mutating toxins are created that increase human cancer risk. Now that overheated food is associated with accelerated aging, health conscious individuals have an even greater incentive to pay attention to their diet and increase their intake of raw foods.
NB. Some foods eg chicken are cooked to kill bacteria or which can cause infections. This study does not negate the benefits of cooking such foods. Remember low heat cooking methods are healthier for these foods.
1. Vlassara H et al. Inflammatory mediators are induced by dietary glycotoxins, a major risk factor for diabetic angiopathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2002 Nov 26;99(24):15596-601.
Other references available on request.
Raw food Vegans Are Healthier - Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA, Archives of Internal medicine, March 2005
Raw food vegans have again been found healthier according to latest research. They have:
* Lower levels of IGF-1, a growth factor linked to risk of breast and prostate cancer.
* Stronger bones. Although nutritionists and the food industry have warned that a diet without dairy foods can lead to the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, research found the vegans they studied had strong bones.
"We think it's possible these people don't have increased risk of fracture but that their low bone mass is related to the fact that they are lighter because they take in fewer calories," Dr. Luigi Fontana, who led the study, said in a statement.
* Low BMI and body fat content. "Because of their low calorie and low protein intake, raw food vegetarians have a low body mass index (BMI) and a low total body fat content. The team compared them to 18 more average Americans. The raw food group had an average body mass index of 20.5, while the average group were slightly overweight with a BMI of 25.
BMI is an internationally accepted measurement of height to weight, and a BMI of 18.5 to 24 is considered the healthy range.
* low levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory molecule that is becoming linked with the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic disease.
* Higher levels of vitamin D. Fontana expected the vegans to have low vitamin D levels because they avoid all animal products including dairy. But in fact their vitamin D levels were "markedly higher" than average.
Vitamin D is made by the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight and is the key to keeping strong bones. It is added to milk and other foods because it is so important and because processing makes tem deficient in Vitamin D
"These people are clever enough to expose themselves to sunlight to increase their concentrations of vitamin D," Fontana said. (They are intelligent enough to ignore the Slip, Slop, Slap of the anti-sun media)
Raw food vegans believe in eating only plant-derived foods that have not been cooked, processed, or otherwise altered from their natural state. Fontana's team studied 18 strict raw food vegans aged 33 to 85. All ate a diet that included unprepared foods such vegetables, fruits, nuts, and sprouted grains. They had been on this diet for an average of 3.6 years.
Antioxidant Status in Long-Term Adherents to a Strict Raw Vegan Diet
Rauma AL, Torronen R, Hanninen O, Verhagen H, Mykkanen. Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Finland. Am J Clin Nutr 1995 Dec;62(6):1221-7
Antioxidant status was investigated in 20 Finnish middle-aged female vegans and in one male vegan who were following a strict, uncooked vegan diet ("living food diet"), by means of a dietary survey and biochemical measurements (blood concentrations of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, and the activities of the zinc/copper-dependent superoxide dismutase and selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase). Values were compared with those of omnivores matched for sex, age, social status, and residence. Antioxidant supplementation was used by 4 of 20 female vegans and by 11 of 20 control subjects. Based on dietary records, the vegans had significantly higher intakes of beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, and copper, and a significantly lower intake of selenium than the omnivorous control subjects. The calculated dietary antioxidant intakes by the vegans, expressed as percentages of the US recommended dietary allowances, were as follows: 305% of vitamin C, 247% of vitamin A, 313% of vitamin E, 92% of zinc, 120% of copper, and 49% of selenium. Compared with the omnivores, the vegans had significantly higher blood concentrations of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as higher erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity. These differences were also seen in pairs who were using no antioxidant supplements. The present data indicate that the "living food diet" provides significantly more dietary antioxidants than does the cooked, omnivorous diet, and that the long-term adherents to this diet have a better antioxidant status than do omnivorous control subjects.
Effects of a Raw Food Diet on Hypertension and Obesity
Douglass JM, Rasgon IM, Fleiss PM, Schmidt RD, Peters SN, Abelmann EA.
We examined responses to cooked and uncooked food in 32 outpatients with essential hypertension; 28 were also overweight. By varying cooked and uncooked food percentages and salt intake, patients acted as their own control subjects in this unblinded study. After a mean duration of 6.7 months, average intake of uncooked food comprised 62% of calories ingested. Mean weight loss was 3.8 kg and mean diastolic pressure reduction 17.8 mm Hg, both statistically significant (P less than .00001). Eighty percent of those who smoked or drank alcohol abstained spontaneously.
Fruit & Vegetable Juices May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease - University of South Florida, June 2005
Something as simple as incorporating more fruit and vegetable juices into our diet may have a significant impact on our brain health according to Amy Borenstein from the University of South Florida. Her research has found a 75 per cent reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease among elderly people who drank fruit or vegetable juices at least three times per week compared with those who drank these juices less than once a week.
There was no apparent dementia-related benefit from dietary or supplemental vitamin E, C or beta-carotene intake, she added.
The research was presented at the US-based Alzheimer's Association's first conference on prevention of dementia, running in Washington this week (abstract 05-A-103-ALZ-PC).
There are nearly 18 million people with dementia in the world and the most common cause of this dementia is Alzheimer's disease.
Ageing populations and increasing overweight are driving incidence of the disease upwards and by 2025 this figure is estimated to rise to 34 million, with 71 per cent of these likely to live in developing countries, making the need for prevention of the uncurable disease crucial.
The Florida researchers studied more than 1,800 older Japanese American men and women from the Kame Project in Seattle, in which participants were dementia-free at the onset of the study and were followed for up to nine years. Dietary consumption was determined using a food frequency questionnaire given at the beginning of the study that provided information on intake of fruits, vegetables, tea, wine, and fruit and vegetable juices.
The accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the brain are thought to exhaust antioxidant capacity and lead to the onset or progression of Alzheimer's. Antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin E from dietary fruits and vegetables, has been associated with delayed onset of the disease, although there is little evidence to date that supplements can offer the same benefit. Animal studies have found that a number of polyphenols from juices have stronger protection for neuronal cells against oxidation than vitamins E and C.
Wheatgrass is a nutritious food - a high chlorophyll, high vitamin, high enzyme, low protein, low mineral, no starch food with exceptionally strong biogenicity. Wheatgrass was used in ancient China as a tonic and blood purifier. In the Bible, when King Nebuchadnezzar was physically and mentally ill because of a curse, he was advised by Heaven to "eat grass as did the oxen" and he did and soon made a complete recovery.
Wheatgrass has been found to promote healing and rejuvenation and is used to treat successfully a wide range of disorders. Today, many natural health practitioners recommend wheatgrass and it also provides the basis of many health farms' rejuvenation programs.
When Australian government scientists wanted to know why kangaroos had vastly increased sexual activity in springtime they analysed the kangaroos spring diet - young shoots of wheat and barley grass - and found super-hormones which were responsible for the increase of sexual activity. Many other animals also eat grass when sick.
When a few blades of wheatgrass were added to fluoridated water for several minutes then the wheatgrass removed and the water tested, no trace of fluorine was detected. Wheatgrass has been shown to reduce lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminium and excessive copper in the body.
What is Wheatgrass?
Our wheatgrass is grown from biodynamic wheat - wheat that produces high concentrations of chlorophyll, active enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients.
What is Wheatgrass Juice?
Wheatgrass juice is the pure juice that is extracted from the wheatgrass pulp that human bodies can not digest. The juice consists of 70% chlorophyll and active enzymes, vitamins and nutrients.
What is Chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll which makes up over 70% of the solid content of wheatgrass juice is the basis of all plant life. Chlorophyll is often referred to as "the blood of plant life." and It closely resembles the molecules of human red blood cells. How is Chlorophyll so closely related to human blood? Both Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin share a similar atom structure to create their respective molecules. The only actual difference in the two molecules is that of the metallic atom element. In human blood or hemoglobin consists of iron, while in Chlorophyll the metallic atom is magnesium.
What is the Importance of Chlorophyll's Resemblance to Human Blood?
Since Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin are so much alike in atom structure it allows it to be absorbed quickly and begin to rebuild the blood stream.
What are Enzymes?
Enzymes in laymen terms are like highly skilled workers on an assembly line. Each enzyme performs a specific function within the body while in harmony with other enzymes. They are important and required for everything we do, vision, thought, dreams, reproduction, breathing, digestion are all controlled by enzymes.
Why are Enzymes so Important for Good Health?
With the important role of enzymes involvement in every body function, it is necessary that we intake adequate enzymes on a daily basis. Unfortunately, medical doctors have found that we don't get all the enzymes we need from our cooked, oversalted and over processed foods. This in turn results in overall poor health situation. Wheatgrass Juice can provide the additional enzyme intake your body requires for overall good health.
Is it True that enzymes Aid in the Prevention and Curing of Cancer?
Yes, it is true that enzymes have been linked to the prevention and curing of cancer. In an article recently published in the Journal Of Longivity Research Vol.2/No.4 1996, enzymes were praised for their ability to combat cancer. Enzymes deter the cancer cells’ ability to hide from the immune system and spread throughout the body.
What is the Nutritional Value of wheatgrass Juice?
One ounce of Wheatgrass Juice is equivalent in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids found in 1.1kgs of green leaf vegetables. Wheatgrass is one of the richest natural sources of vitamins A, complete B complex, B-17, C, E, and K. In addition, Wheatgrass is an excellent source of Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Sulphur, Cobalt, Zinc, 17 forms of amino acids and enzymes.
What are the Medical Benefits of Wheatgrass Juice Consumption to the Human Body?
Many scientific studies have shown wheatgrass juice is completely non-toxic to humans and animals Wheatgrass juice has been linked to many medical benefits. Some of those benefits are listed below:
• Increases hemoglobin production
• Rebuilds the blood stream and heals anaemia
• Helps prevent tooth decay
• Improves the body's ability to heal sores, ulcers and other wounds
• Purifies the blood
• Creates an unfavorable environment for unfriendly bacteria growth
• Washes drug deposits from the body
• Neutralizes toxins and carcinogens in the body
• Helps purify the liver
• Improves blood sugar disorders
• Keeps hair from graying
• Improves digestion
• Removes heavy metals from the body
• Reduces high blood pressure
• Inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria
• Inhibits the metabolic activation of carcinogens
• Increases resistance to radiation
• Increases the function of the heart
• Aids in the prevention and curing of cancer
Lack of Veges & Fruit is NZ's Number 1 Killer - Ministry of Health - Dom Post 3/4/2004
Not eating enough fruit and vegetables killed more people in 1997 than alcohol, drugs and acts of violence combined, a new Health Ministry report says.
The ministry has taken old data and combined it in new ways to get a better idea o the top 20 causes of death - information that it says is still relevant today.
Report author Martin Tobias has drawn links between health conditions and known health risks. For example, statistics showed that between 1996 and 1998, heart disease remained NZ's No 1 killer, closely followed by strokes. These two conditions claimed more than 9000 lives.
But when 1997 deaths were analysed by their health risk factors, a new picture emerged. Dr Tobias said diet and insufficient physical activity were considered responsible for 11,000 deaths that year, nearly 40% of all deaths in 1997. High blood pressure caused the deaths of 4700 people and obesity claimed 3200 lives. Air pollution was blamed for 970 deaths, with 40 per cent of them believed to be attributable to vehicle emissions.
The ministry's acting director of public health, Douglas Lush, said the report would help policymakers decide which risk factors deserved more attention. The top 20 killers by health conditions were ischaemic heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive lung disease, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pneumonia and flu, diabetes, breast cancer, suicide, dementia, road trafic injuries, prostate cancer, aortic aneurism, valvular heart disease, pancreatic cancer, non-hodgkinson lymphoma, stomach cancer, cardiac dysrhythmia, leukemia.
The top 20 cause of death by risk factor were diet, tobacco, deprivation, cholesterol, blood pressure, elevated body mass index, insufficent physical activity, pre diabetes, infection, inadequate vegetables and fruit, adverse in-hospital health care events, air pollution, alcohol and drugs, violence, injury (non traffic), road traffic, cancer screening access, ultraviolet radiation, occupation, unsafe sex."
So, according to the Ministry of Health's statistics the best single thing to do to improve our health is to choose to choose a healthy diet!
Acrylamide in Cooked Food
The healthcare community was alarmed two years ago when Swedish researchers reported that several very common foods contain high levels of a suspected carcinogen called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical with a variety of industrial uses. Acrylamide is used to make polyacrylamide, which is used, for example, in cosmetics and in some food packaging materials (e.g., paperboard and paperboard products subject to FDA food additive regulations), in soil conditioning agents and in the formation of plastics and specialized grouting agents. Polyacrylamide also is used to treat sewage and wastewater and to purify drinking water. Polyacrylamide is not toxic; however, in each of these uses, some of the original acrylamide remains in the finished product in very small quantities. In addition, acrylamide is known to be a component of cigarette smoke.
When the 2002 Swedish research revealed that high levels of acrylamide may be created by doing something as simple as baking a loaf of bread, it sent shockwaves through the nutrition field. Scientists know that acrylamide causes cancer in laboratory rats. They also know that contact with large quantities of acrylamide can cause nerve damage in humans. Based on high-dose experiments in animals, acrylamide is classified as a potential human carcinogen, as well as a genotoxicant, a substance that can mutate and damage genetic material. But no one knows whether the tiny amounts of acrylamide in cooked foods can cause cancer or have any other harmful effects when ingested by people. "As soon as we heard about this problem, we took action and laid out a solid plan to learn more about acrylamide and to reduce exposure to it," says Terry Troxell, Ph.D., director of the FDA's Office of Plant and Dairy Foods and Beverages.
Researchers at Stockholm University first made the discovery while studying how staple foods are affected by cooking. Sweden's National Food Administration (NFA) then refined the testing by subjecting more than 100 different types of carbohydrate-rich foods to high-heat cooking methods such as baking, frying and deep-frying. They concluded that these types of food preparations on starch-rich foods cause a spontaneous creation of acrylamide.
A report in Nature Science Update noted that acrylamide is formed when frying or baking heats sugars and amino acids to temperatures above 120 degrees C. This process creates the Maillard reaction; also called the browning reaction. The browning reaction occurs when certain carbohydrate molecules bind with proteins - glucose (a sugar) and asparagine (an amino acid). Eating foods cooked above 120 degrees C changes the structure of enzymes and other proteins in the body, resulting in tissue and organ damage (particularly in diabetics) and causes aging.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, the browning reaction occurs with any sugar, but with fructose it happens seven times faster than it does with glucose.
Late last month, the FDA announced the results of testing done on about 750 food products to determine acrylamide content. Acrylamide was not found in uncooked or boiled food - studies indicate that it appears to form during certain high-temperature (greater than 250 F) cooking processes, such as frying and baking, and that levels of acrylamide increase with heating time. Home-cooked foods, as well as pre-cooked, packaged and processed foods, have been found to contain acrylamide. A meeting of experts in 2002, including FDA scientists, was hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The FAO and WHO reported that the short-term dietary intake of acrylamide was found to be about 50 micrograms per day for the average adult - an amount significantly below that known to cause nerve damage in laboratory animals. The FAO and WHO experts concluded that more information was needed on acrylamide in food, but added that the substance was a "major concern."
The preliminary results showed that the highest levels of acrylamide occur in potato products, with bread and breakfast cereals containing only somewhat lower levels. A single serving of fast food French fries contained on average over 400 micrograms of acrylamide! This news, coupled with what we already know about the trans-fatty acids in oil used for deep frying, would have to qualify fast food French fries as just about the worst food you can possibly eat.
No acrylamide was found in fresh and boiled fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, processed milk, cheese, ice cream, or infant formula. Also, most cooked meat, fish, and seafood had no acrylamide except for fast food chicken breasts and nuggets which contained moderate amounts and pork sausage and fish sticks which contained low amounts. High levels of acrylamide were found in graham crackers, black olives, bottled prune juice, packaged cookies, cereals, crackers, potato chips, pretzels, pastries, peanut butter, sweet potatoes, shredded wheat cereal, chocolate chip cookies, instant coffee and arrowroot teething biscuits. Other foods that contained varying amounts of acrylamide include whole wheat and rye breads, roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds, baked potatos, processed meals containing turkey and vegetables. The FDA will continue testing products.
The FDA will continue to investigate how acrylamide is formed in food, seek to identify ways to reduce acrylamide levels, and study the human health risk of consuming acrylamide in food. The FDA is collaborating with other federal public health agencies, international partners, academia, consumers, and the food-processing industry to coordinate efforts related to acrylamide in food. Educating consumers will be an important part of the FDA's acrylamide action plan. "Once we have enough information, we want to help consumers understand the potential risks for acrylamide, how it gets into food, and what they can do to avoid it," says Canady.
The FAO and WHO advise consumers that food should not be cooked excessively - for too long or at too high a temperature. We are pleased to see lots of McDonalds marketing is now about salads - a sign of things to come
What You Can Do
To reduce your exposure to acrylamide reduce high temperature cooked food especially French fries, potato, kumara or corn chips, crackers and black olives. Substitute with raw and low temperature cooked food.
Coriander May Prevent Foodborne Illness
Researchers have discovered that a compound , dodecanal, in the leaves and seeds of Coriander can kill harmful salmonella bacteria. See the Sensational Summer Soup recipe for one delicious way to use coriander.
Avocadoes & Fat vs. Fat-free
In a study conducted by researchers from Iowa State University and Ohio State University compared low-fat and fat-free salad dressings to a dressing that contained a normal amount of fat. Blood samples were taken before and after subjects ate salads with the different dressings. Researchers analyzed the samples with an electrochemical technique called high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to determine changes in levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene.
After eating the salad with fat-free dressing, blood tests showed negligible levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene in all subjects. These levels were higher after subjects ate the salad with the low-fat dressing. A substantially greater absorption of carotenoids was observed when salads were consumed with full-fat than with reduced-fat salad dressing.
The Ohio team set out to determine if avocado consumption improves the absorption of lycopene, lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene.
The study was divided into two parts, and each part had two phases. In the first part, a group of six males and five females ate 300 grams of tomato salsa. About half of the group was given salsa that contained 150 grams of avocado (about five tablespoons), and the others ate salsa without avocado. After a washout period, the test was repeated with the subjects crossing over; those who ate avocado salsa in the first phase were served plain salsa, and vice versa. This first part of the study was designed to determine lycopene absorption.
The second part of the study was designed to determine lutein and carotene absorption. In this part, the subjects ate a salad of carrots, spinach and lettuce. For half the group, salads also contained the 150 grams of avocado. As in the first part, the groups crossed over after a washout period. During both parts of the study, the only fat source was avocado.
Blood was drawn from each subject several times after each meal to determine changes in nutrient levels for up to nine and a half hours after the meals. As in the earlier study, blood was analyzed using HPLC.
- Subjects who ate avocado with salsa absorbed nearly 4.5 times more lycopene than those who didn't eat avocado.
- Subjects who ate avocado with salad absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene and 13.6 times more beta-carotene than those who didn't eat avocado.
- More than four times as much lutein was absorbed by subjects who ate avocado with salad compared to those who ate only salad.
Lutein has been shown to support good vision and helps prevent age related macular degeneration. Good sources of lutein include spinach, eggs, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, oranges, lettuce and celery.
Many fruits and vegetables are abundant in the two carotenoids, which play a role in the prevention of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. And lycopene (found mostly in tomatoes and watermelon) is a powerful antioxidant that promotes heart health and has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
And then there's the avocado, a truly nutrient-dense food that contains:
- Vitamins B, E and K
- Monounsaturated fats
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Check out the Raw Borsch Soup in the Recipes page for a delicious way to have avocado and raw veges.