The Risks of Acrylamide in Food

It's important to keep ultra-processed foods to a minimum in your diet because they contain toxic substances such as acrylamide. This can increase the risk of a number of conditions, including cancer.
The Risks of Acrylamide in Food

Last update: 02 March, 2021

Some food products may contain toxins that can potentially damage your health in the long term. Today, we want to talk about acrylamide, a substance that forms in food when it’s cooked at high temperatures.

Firstly, it’s important to point out that, generally, frying and other high-temperature cooking should be avoided as much as possible anyway. These ways of cooking create more waste products and can damage your health. There are even some potential links between high-temperature cooking and cancer.

Acrylamide is toxic

Acrylamide is a toxin that forms when you cook carbohydrates at high temperatures. It’s commonly found in fried and battered foods and is just one of the many reasons why you should avoid these types of foods.

Regular consumption of acrylamide has been linked to, amongst other things, an increased risk of developing cancer. According to a publication in the European Journal of Epidemiology, there’s a link between this substance and ovarian cancer. So, you can see that it’s clearly a good idea to try and avoid these aggressive cooking methods.

Acrylamide in food: risks to the central nervous system

Like alcohol, acrylamide is a teratogen, which means that it can lead to birth defects. But it also poses a risk to the central nervous system since it increases oxidation and can lead to a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, regularly consuming acrylamide is a potential risk factor when it comes to cognition problems, according to a study in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Some fried chicken, which will contain acrylamide.

Experts recommend drastically reducing the amount of fried food in your diet because it can cause various health problems. Many of these relate to acrylamide, and others relate to trans fats. So, the best option is to choose fresh foods or foods that haven’t been cooked so aggressively.

Acrylamide in processed foods

As well as food that you fry at home, acrylamide is commonly found in highly-processed food products. Furthermore, manufacturers don’t have to declare this on the label, so it’s something of a hidden danger.

All bakery products usually contain acrylamide, as do pastries and other takeaway snacks. And these are already bad enough given the additives, sugar, and trans-type lipids they contain.

Putting this all together, it’s clear that processed foods should definitely not be on your plate on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’ll be significantly increasing the risk of complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes, or neurodegenerative conditions.

Whilst it’s important to include carbohydrates in your diet, it’s best for them to be simple carbohydrates and not to cook them at high temperatures. One way to avoid this is by cooking them in water. This is one cooking method that doesn’t usually generate toxic compounds.

Acrylamide in food: a health risk

A plate of fried foods that contain acrylamide.

As you can see, acrylamide in food poses something of a health risk, so you should try to avoid it wherever possible. To do this, cut out any ultra-processed, fried, or battered foods. At the end of the day, this toxin is created by cooking carbohydrates at high temperatures.

Meanwhile, don’t forget the importance of antioxidants in order to minimize the presence of free radicals. That way, you can mitigate the impact of harmful teratogens such as acrylamide. Antioxidants are good for you, so you should make sure you eat plenty of vegetables regularly.

At the same time, avoid takeaway snacks. These processed foods don’t just contain acrylamide but, like many soft drinks, they also contain a range of other chemical additives that can damage your health and lead to complex diseases in the long term.

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  • Hogervost JGF., Brandt PA., Godschalk RW., Interactions between dietary acrylamide intake and genes for ovarian cancer risk. Eur J Epidemiol, 2017. 32 (5): 431-444.
  • Kopanska M., Muchacka R., Czech J., Batoryna M., et al., Acrylamide toxicity and cholinergic nervous system. J Physiol Pharmacol, 2018.