Cooking is a great way to enhance a food’s flavor. However, not all food preparation techniques are good for your health. Some methods can alter the composition of your food, leading to the formation of harmful substances. To give you a better idea, here is a list of harmful or toxic cooking methods.
Deep-frying is labelled as one of the most harmful or toxic cooking methods due to various reasons.
As you know, eating a lot of deep-fried foods has been linked to several health concerns such as heart diseases and type-2 diabetes. This is especially true for fast-food products that are typically fried in hydrogenated oils. Basically, hydrogenated oils can provide a satisfying crunch, but they are also rich in trans fats – the type of fat that can raise your bad cholesterol levels and cause heart problems.
Aside from trans fat, deep-frying starchy vegetables like potatoes can also lead to the formation of a toxic compound or carcinogen known as acrylamide. For this reason, health experts recommend occasionally eating french fries, chips, and other fried products. Instead, you can opt for steamed or sauteed vegetables.
2. Reheating or Re-Using Oils
Today, we know that not all fatty or oily substances are unhealthy. There are numerous oils that can provide health benefits such as olive, macadamia, coconut, sesame, and flaxseed.
However, you have to be cautious when using cooking oils. Remember, once the oil exceeds its smoke point, it will start to break down, lose its nutritional value, and release harmful free radicals. Because of this, you have to know the smoke point of your favorite oil and use it appropriately.
An example is flaxseed oil, which has a low smoke point (107 °C). As such, you should not heat this delicate product. Instead, you can add it to your dips and salad dressing. Olive oil, on the other hand, is great for sautéing.
But, that’s not all. Aside from smoke point, re-heating or re-using oil is also harmful to your health. In one study, researchers found certain aldehydes when sunflower oil was re-heated. According to the study, these substances are common causes of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
3. Grilling and Smoking
A lot of us grill our food to avoid using oils. At the same time, you’ll get an appetizing barbecue or smoky flavor through these food preparation techniques. However, both grilling and smoking are included in this list of harmful or toxic cooking methods.
Basically, grilling or smoking meat products can lead to the formation of toxic compounds, namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and heterocyclic amines (HCA). Various studies have linked these substances to various health concerns such as inflammation and cancer.
Additionally, smoked products have excessive amounts of sodium. As you probably know, consuming a lot of salty foods is the most common cause of hypertension or high blood pressure.
Aside from deep-fried potatoes, roasting some plant-based products may lead to acrylamide formation. An example for this is roasted nuts. The main reason is due to the high temperature used in roasting these crops. But, don’t worry. You can avoid acrylamide by opting for raw and unsalted nuts.
Roasted coffee and cocoa beans are other products with high acrylamide contents.
5. Burned Food
The most common food that we usually burn is a slice of bread. But, should you eat a burned toast?
Always remember that acrylamide is present in baked goods such as cookies, biscuits, and some breads. Furthermore, blackened or charred food doesn’t only contain zero nutrients. It also has toxic compounds that can harm your body. Thus, it is best to just throw away a burned toast or food.
Final Thought on Cooking and Your Health
Overall, you don’t have to completely avoid eating all the foods made from these toxic cooking methods. Remember, our bodies, specifically the liver, is capable of removing harmful substances. Nonetheless, health experts recommend to occasionally use these cooking methods. As much as possible, you have to opt for food preparation techniques that use low temperatures. Eating raw vegetables is another good option.
- Does Cooking Food Create Toxins and Carcinogens (Century Life)
- Smoked Food and Cancer (NCBI)
- Toxic Aldehydes Detected in Reheated Oils (Science Direct)
- Health Risks Linked to Fried Foods (Harvard)
- Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures (NIH)
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Toxipedia)