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    Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here’s what you need to know


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    Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here’s what you need to know

    Post by yoly on Mon Jan 23 2017, 10:19

    (It's not really just potatoes....)

    Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here’s what you need to know

    By Sam Wong

    The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a campaign warning of the cancer risk associated with cooking potatoes and other starchy foods at high temperatures. How worried should we be, and do we need to change the way we eat? New Scientist looks at the evidence

    What’s the problem?

    In a word, acrylamide. This chemical is used in lots of industrial processes, including water purification, and to separate DNA molecules in experiments. Acrylamide is also found in some foods.

    Which foods contain acrylamide?

    Acrylamide is made by something called the Maillard reaction, which browns cooked foods and gives them their pleasing flavour. As sugars and amino acids react together, they produce thousands of different chemicals. Particularly high levels of acrylamide are found in starchy foods, like potatoes and bread, when cooked at temperatures over 120 oC. The chemical can also be present in breakfast cereals, biscuits and coffee.

    Is acrylamide dangerous?

    In the body, acrylamide is converted into another compound, glycidamide, which can bind to DNA and cause mutations. Animal studies clearly show that acrylamide causes all sorts of cancers. It’s much harder to study its effects in people, but there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t produce cancer the same way in us, too.

    The more acrylamide you consume, the higher the risk is likely to be.
    Read more: Acrylamide, the food scare the world forgot

    What should we do?

    The FSA’s advice is to “go for gold”: aim for a golden yellow colour or lighter when frying, baking, toasting or roasting starchy foods.

    But I like my roast potatoes brown and crispy!

    Then you might do well to eat them less often. “It’s those kinds of trade-offs we’re encouraging people to just think about,” says Steve Wearne of the FSA. “We’re not saying to people to worry about the occasional meal that’s a bit overcooked. This is about managing risk across your whole lifetime.”

    How else can we reduce the risk?

    Don’t keep raw potatoes in the fridge. At low temperatures, an enzyme called invertase breaks down the sugar sucrose into glucose and fructose, which can form acrylamide during cooking. Frozen food doesn’t carry this particular risk, as sucrose doesn’t get broken down at very low temperatures.

    You can also try blanching potatoes before frying. This removes half the sugar, resulting in lower levels of acrylamide.

    In the future, safer potatoes may be available. Restaurants and the food industry are already being encouraged to use potato varieties that naturally produce less acrylamide. Now growers are looking to develop varieties that contain less asparagine, an amino acid that seems to be important for making the chemical.

    chris c

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    Re: Are potatoes now a cancer risk? Here’s what you need to know

    Post by chris c on Tue Jan 24 2017, 23:55

    Here's a clue, don't buy potatoes or bread at all, least of all eat them <G> been working for me for over a decade now. How ironic though that the staples of dieticians' advice turn out not to be so good after all, eh Sian?

      Current date/time is Mon Jun 18 2018, 04:43