How do you often cook your meals? Do you boil, steam or poach your food? Do you fry, grill or bake them?

Whatever your answer is, you may have to examine the way you cook your meals. A new study in New York City suggests that how you cook can possibly affect your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Cooking Methods

Led by Dr. Jaime Uribarri of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, researchers wanted to figure out if a diet that is low on advanced glycation end products (AGEs) could offer protection to people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to experts, methods of frying, grilling or baking food can produce AGEs. High levels of these substances have been associated with insulin resistance, inflammation and stress on the body's cells. These are markers in terms of diabetes.

Uribarri says that among people with type 2 diabetes who receive a high-AGE diet or low-AGE diet, those on the second diet tend to indicate signs of reduced inflammation.

Now, in their new study, Uribarri and colleagues randomly assigned participants to one of two diet groups: 49 people were added to the regular-AGE diet group, while 51 people were added to the low-AGE diet group.

All participants were at least 50 years old and had at least one of the five following health concerns: large waist circumference, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, high levels of tryglycerides and high levels of fasting blood sugar.

Participants in the low-AGE group were asked to avoid baking, frying or grilling food. They were required to cook with water by steaming, stewing or boiling.

Some instances of the changes they made included replacing fried eggs with boiled eggs; eating poached chicken instead of grilled chicken; and eating beef stew instead of grilled steak. The participants completed a three-day food record. And although they changed the preparation for the food they ate, the participants did not change the type of food they consumed.

An expert met up with the low-AGE group twice a week and after every three months to review the cooking methods.

On the other hand, participants in the regular-AGE group were told to continue cooking the way they usually did. This went on for a year.

Results Of The Study

In the end, Uribarri and colleagues discovered that those in the low-AGE group had improved insulin resistance, as well as the parameters in inflammation and stress. Additionally, the body weight dropped slightly for this group, and there were no side effects.

"We imagine the more you [cook with low-AGE methods], the better," says Uribarri. "We think it will be proportionate."

Uribarri says the findings are suggestive of a cause-and-effect relationship. However, the study still has to be demonstrated in a large-scale trial with different participants.

Is Changing The Way You Cook Enough?

Although the findings of the study seem positive, one expert believes changing the way you prepare your meals may not be enough to curb your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller from New York University Langone Medical Center says that the number of AGEs present can be increased by the method of cooking, but many types of food themselves are high in AGEs.

Heller says in addition to changing the way we cook, what type of food we're eating should be changed as well. She says it's also important to focus on the quality of the food we're eating. For instance, plant-based food are often low in AGEs.

Still, she says experts often underline the importance of making small changes. Perhaps switching to cooking methods that lead to lower AGEs may be one way to begin making these small changes, she added.

Meanwhile, the details of the new study are published in the journal Diabetologia.

Photo: Baron Valium | Flickr

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