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Age-defying cooking techniques

Dr. Steven Joyal, MD, is vice president of Scientific Affairs and Medical Development for the Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org), a global authority on nutrition, health and wellness as well as a provider of scientific information o...

How you cook can age you

Broil, bake, grill, steam, poach, roast, pan fry, sauté, and braise -- these are the many different methods to cook food, and yet very few people know which of these cooking techniques actually accelerate the aging process. To keep you well-fed and looking your best, take these anti-aging cooking tips into your kitchen.

Braised Beef and vegetables

If you think broiling, baking, and roasting are the best ways to cook food, think again. These high heat cooking methods actually cause biochemical changes in food that delay healing, increase oxidation stress, boost inflammation, increase the risk of heart and vascular disease, and literally accelerate the aging process of tissues and organs in our bodies. The scientific evidence supporting the adverse impact of ingesting food cooked at high temperature is strong, yet the vast majority of health-conscious people are completely unaware that the way they cook their food can adversely affect their health.

So which cooking technique is better: high and dry or wet and slow?

High and dry cooking hastens aging

When we cook food at temperatures in excess of about 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the process of glycation accelerates. The biochemical phenomenon known as glycation occurs when sugar molecules interact with protein and/or fat molecules. The results are molecules known as an advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs for short.

When you grill, broil, roast and sauté foods at temperatures far in excess of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the food literally browns before your eyes, and this color change is a clue that glycation has occurred. Commercial kitchens and the backyard grill, a summertime favorite, sear meats, poultry, and fish at temperatures often in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and dramatically increase AGEs in your favorite foods.

In the past, scientific experiments used techniques to measure AGEs that dramatically underestimated the level of glycation occurring in foods cooked under high temperature, the amount of AGEs absorbed by our bodies after consuming these high-temperature cooked foods, and the damage done to the tissues and cells of our body in response to high-temperature cooked foods. In fact, we now know that dietary AGEs impede wound healing, damage blood vessels, and accelerate the aging process.

Wet and slow cooking decreases aging

Since high heat cooking methods accelerate glycation, opting for alternative cooking methods can minimize the potential damage from AGEs in the food we eat. Cooking methods that utilize liquids and lower cooking temperatures are optimal for decreasing the rate of glycation. Recall that glycation dramatically accelerates at temperatures in excess of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Poaching, steaming, and braising foods utilize moist-heat cooking methods. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that does not cause a dramatic increase in the rate of glycation.

High protein foods, such as meat, poultry, and fish, can be deliciously prepared with moist-heat cooking methods. For example:

  • Instead of broiling or grilling salmon, poach the fish in water, white wine, and fresh herbs.
  • Forgo roasting chicken in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and cook poultry in the ever versatile slowcooker, which typically cooks food at 170 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you have a hankering for meat, braise beef with vegetables and red wine as an alternative to roasting in the oven.

Another advantage of using moist-heat cooking methods is that you can obtain superior results with less expensive cuts of meat, which will save you money and slow down the effects of aging.

Anti-aging bottom line

Wet and slow is the way to go. Moist-heat cooking methods, such as poaching, steaming and braising, will protect you from the aging effects of glycation while delivering healthy and delicious meals.

More natural age-defying strategies

Related video

Braised beef recipe

Andrea Pellegrini, master chef of Cooks Association school in Turin, shows us how to prepare this delicious and typical piedmont region recipe.

For more health and anti-aging tips, visit www.lef.org.

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