Cooking to Produce The Least Carcinogenic Compounds
In a previous blog, I mentioned a compound acrylamide and it's link to breast cancer risk. To recap;
Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during certain types of high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.
High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most likely to cause acrylamide formation. Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee. Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Generally, acrylamide is more likely to accumulate when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures.
What is interesting to note and somewhat counter intuitive, is that microwaving carbohydrates produces much less of these compounds than traditional cooking methods at high heat.
Microwaving fats is not a good thing because the fatty acid structure can change from cis to trans fatty acids.
Microwaving meats can reduce the B vitamins levels, specifically the B12.
But, it does appear that carbohydrates might do ok. They do lose a huge amount of vitamins and enzymes rendering them less nutritious, but they do not appear to have high levels of acrylamides.
Still, the best way to cook vegetables or grains is to steam them.
Steaming does not seem to produce acrylamide and it retains the vitamins contained in the produce or grain.
Sprouting is always an option for grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds and makes them more nutritious.
Many people avoid sprouting because they think it is either complicated, or requires paraphanalia.This is not true, a shallow glass dish and water are all that is necessary for sprouting.
What should you take away from this?
The least exposure to high heat the better. So cooking for a short time, or at low temperatures are better than the opposite. The caveat is for oils, every type of oil has it's own smoke point that should not be reached as it denatures the oil.