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Issue 131 Item 9 Slow Cooking of Food May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetic

May 6, 2002

How food is prepared may be as important as what is eaten, for diabetics, and perhaps the general population as well, investigators suggest. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition released last Monday, scientists from Mount Sinai School of Medicine report that cooking food slowly at low temperatures produces fewer proinflammatory advanced glycation end products (AGEs). "Low-grade inflammation associated with diabetes and its complications may be in part AGE-mediated," Dr. Helen Vlassara and colleagues explain in the paper.

To explore this further, they had 24 nonsmoking diabetics consume one of two equally nutritious diets differing only in AGE content. In one diet, AGE content was reduced 5-fold by cooking all meals at reduced temperatures for longer periods.


After 4 to 6 weeks, patients consuming meals with a "regular" AGE content showed high levels of serum AGEs, as well as C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and other inflammatory markers. In contrast, patients eating slow-cooked, reduced-AGE meals had markedly lower concentrations of both AGEs and inflammatory markers.

The fact that glucose and lipid changes were "unremarkable" over the study period suggests that the findings are "independent of dietary fat or carbohydrate and [point] to other factors, namely exogenously supplied dietary AGEs," the team writes.

Dietary AGEs are "significant contributors" to serum AGEs, and, in diabetics, "may promote further cell activation and inflammatory mediators, leading to systemic tissue injury," Dr. Vlassara’s team writes. "Restriction of dietary AGEs suppresses these effects independent of hyperglycemia, and thus it may delay diabetic angiopathy."

"Unlike the emphasis that has been put so far on the nutrients themselves, our work really points to the mode with which we have been accustomed to preparing our food. It seems that the byproducts that we form inadvertently simply by processing our food puts us at risk,”.said Dr. Vlassara.

She added that there are a number of animal studies that support these findings in humans. "In genetically predisposed animals where we know they will develop diabetes, this [reduced AGE] diet has proven highly protective. The findings are pretty astounding."

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