Food Cooked at High Temperature May Boost Alzheimer's Risk

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Cooking foods at high temperatures may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease due to the formation of a type of compound made of sugars and protein at high heat that leads to increased inflammation and oxidative stress.

The surprising revelation was made by researchers at Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, led by Jaime Uribarri, MD, and Weijing Cai, MD. The compounds, known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), increase the risk for various chronic diseases. In addition, they can bind to the receptor for AGEs (RAGE), which transports beta-amyloid protein across the blood-brain barrier. Beta-amyloid plaque build-up is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s.

The researchers cooked 549 foods and measured the AGE content. They found the higher the cooking temperature, the higher the AGE content. Then, using observational studies or national dietary supply values, they estimated average cooking measures and temperatures.

Overall, meat contributed the greatest to AGEs, followed by vegetable oils, cheese, and fish, the researchers reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Cereals/grains, eggs, fruit, legumes, milk, nuts, starchy roots, and vegetables contributed relatively little to the total amount of AGEs in a diet.

“We found that mice kept on a diet high in AGEs, similar to Western diet, had high levels of AGEs in their brains together with deposits of amyloid-β, a component of the plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, while at the same time developed declines in cognitive and motor abilities,” Uribarri and Cai said in a statement. “The mice fed a low AGE diet remained free of these conditions.”

Food Cooked at High Temperature May Boost Alzheimer's Risk
Food Cooked at High Temperature May Boost Alzheimer's Risk

A new paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease provides evidence that cooking foods at high temperatures increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease. This study looked at the content of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in national diets and clinical studies comparing and compared total AGEs to Alzheimer's disease rates.

AGEs are a group of compounds that are combinations of sugars and proteins and other large molecules. They can be formed in the body, and there is a large body of literature on AGEs and Alzheimer's disease. However, AGEs are also formed when food is cooked at high temperatures or aged for a long time such as in hard cheese. 

AGEs increase the risk of various chronic diseases through several mechanisms including increased inflammation and oxidative stress. They can also bind to the receptor for AGEs (RAGE). RAGE transports beta-amyloid proteins across the blood-brain barrier and contributes to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

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