A new study suggests that changing the way you cook could help reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Cooking by boiling, steaming or poaching appears to be the safest way to cook, say researchers behind the study When you fry, grill or bake foods – also called dry-heat cooking – foods produce substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), higher levels of which have been linked to insulin resistance, stress on the body's cells and inflammation. These are troublemakers in terms of diabetes risk. Insulin is a hormone that helps blood sugar from food get into cells for energy.
Without insulin, or with insulin resistance, too much sugar remains in the blood. This can lead to serious problems for the heart, eyes, kidneys and other organs. For their study, the researchers wanted to see if a low-AGE diet could offer protection to people already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers randomly assigned study participants to one of two diet groups. The regular-AGE diet group included 49 people; the low-AGE diet group had 51. All were at least 50 years old.
And they had at least two of the following five health concerns (or were on medications for these problems): a large waist circumference (40 inches for men, 35 for women); high blood pressure; low HDL (good) cholesterol; high triglycerides (another type of blood fat); or elevated fasting blood sugar levels. Those in the low-AGE group were told to avoid frying, baking or grilling foods.
Instead, they were encouraged to boil, steam, stew or poach their meals -- in other words, cook with water. The participants were specifically told not to change the types of foods they ate, just the preparation of those foods. The regular-AGE group was instructed to continue cooking as they already did. Following a full-year of study, it was found that in the low-AGE group, all the parameters for stress and inflammation improved and insulin resistance came down. Body weight also dropped slightly in the low-AGE group, and no side effects were seen from their new diet preparation methods.
Researchers point out that though AGEs are increased by cooking, there are many foods that are, on their own, high in AGEs. For instance, vegetables and other plant foods are not as high in AGEs, whereas red meat and cheese seem to have the most. So, in addition to changing how we cook, we also need to be aware of what we are eating.