Hold the acrylamide, pease!

Here’s just one more reason America’s vegetable of choice (in the form of chips or fries) needs a closer look.

In addition to the excessive fat and sodium content of potato chips and french fries, a chemical called arcylamide is also found — a possible cancer-causing agent. Because acrylamide is found in carbohydrate foods which are cooked at high temperatures, acrylamide is also found in foods such as cereals, baby foods, breads, and crackers [1].

In lab animals, acrylamide is shown to cause tumors and neurological problems. Consumer’s in the US are not seemingly phased by the recent discovery of the possible carcinogenic effects of acrylamide. Many

American’s are yet to hear about acrylamide despite its presence in nearly 40% of foods. Federal governing bodies in the US, Canada, and Europe are stepping up efforts to reduce the levels of acrylamide in foods [1].

Acrylamide forms when sugars and asparagine (an amino acid) are heated together at temperatures more than 248 degrees Fahrenheit. This effect, which is partly a “Maillard reaction,” enhances a food’s color, texture, aroma, and flavor [1].

What to do about it? Continue eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and added sugar and rich in high-fiber grains, fruits, and vegetables, says the Food and Drug Administration. Joe Schwarcz points out that there is acrylamide in certain foods just like there are aflatoxins in peanuts, ethanol in wine, urethane in sherry, styrene in cinnamon, and hetreocyclic aromatic amines in beef bouillon [1].

It’s also important to know that acrylamide levels vary greatly between identical products such as Krispy Kreme donuts and McDonald’s french fries.

Just like anything and everything else, watch it. No food should be over-consumed in the diet — balance is always the goal.

[1]. Deardorff, Julie. Acrylamide: Why french fries shouldn’t be overheated. Chicago Tribune. September 18, 2009.

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3 Comments

Filed under amino acids, cancer, carbohydrates, fast food, fried food, Julie Deardorff, obesity epidemic, saturated fat, sodium

3 responses to “Hold the acrylamide, pease!

  1. Gina

    I never knew about acrylamide. I remember hearing about it maybe some time ago, but I appreciate this post as a reminder! It's good to have other reasons, besides weight gain, to tell people not to consume too many fries and chips, etc.!

  2. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    I had never heard of acrylamide. A great reminder why eating foods in their natural stage is best… And why we shouldn't eat too much of any one food…

  3. Alisa@Foodista

    Great post.There are always hidden dangers in most of the food we eat,I'm glad I read this.I followed you from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide our readers to your site if you won't mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it's all set, Thanks!

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