Do you know what Acrylamide is?

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

This is a chemical found in starches when they are over cooked at high temperatures like 248 F or 120deg.C. You need to be careful adding potatoes to meat curry and others and boiling for hours in a cooker, can brown the starch in potatoes to produce a cancer producing chemical called Acrylamide. Be aware, when you eat toast, French fries, you are taking some dose of this chemical into your body.

It is a white, odourless, crystal compound, and is used to make plastics and treat waste water, among other things.

Studies have shown that in animals acrylamide can damage DNA and cause cancer. Among humans there is no proof so far that this chemical can cause cancer. For some types of cancer in humans, including kidney, endometriosis and ovarian cancer the results of these studies are mixed, with some studies showing an increased risk and others showing no link.

Do eat toast when it is light-browned and not darker or black to reduce the acrylamide exposer. Some are in the habit of toasting bread slices till black and scraping off the carbon from the surface. That habit should be discontinued, and slight browning of bread should be preferred.

Acrylamide is found in coffee and you should be concerned if you are a regular drinker of coffee. Coffee beans seem to form acrylamide when coffee beans are roasted, and there is no way you can escape if you are a regular coffee drinker. It is also found in baked foods. Instant coffee is supposed to have 100% more acrylamide than fresh roasted coffee. However, coffee drinking is not linked to cancer, in fact linked with a reduced risk of developing some types of cancers. So, enjoy your cup of Joe in the morning.

This chemical was first found in foods in 2002. Day to-day we do expose ourselves to this chemical through smoking, and second hand smoke, personal care products and household items. You could get workplace exposure to this chemical without your knowing and cause damage to your nervous system.

To minimise exposure to acrylamide, keep frying foods to a minimum, as it is produced in most cooking methods. Beware of charring food on a barbeque. Cooking, boiling, or warming foods in a microwave oven is safe. Store your potatoes out of the fridge.

Avoiding acrylamide is impossible. This brief article only warn you to be aware of it and minimise.

See also previous article on Acrylamide from this link

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