It's not that tough to reduce your advanced glycation end products levels, though a few food favorites might have to go.
For specific AGEs levels, go to postandcourier.com/ages-calculator for a handy AGEs calculator. And here are nine tips from AGEs experts and "Dr. Vlassara's AGE-less Diet" (Square One Publishers), a book co-written by a leading AGEs researcher.
- Cut back on fried foods. (Sorry.) That mouthwatering crust on those chicken nuggets — yes, the good part — that's the AGEs in action: sugar, fat and heat.
- That means french fries. (Sorry, again.)
- Hamburgers and hot dogs are big AGEs meals. Researchers estimate that people should try to eat foods with fewer than 5,000 to 8,000 AGEs a day. One Big Mac has 7,800 AGEs. Same with a hot dog.
- You can still eat meat, but cook it differently. Marinate meats in vinegar or lemon juice for a few hours, then put them on the grill for shorter periods. This dramatically reduces AGEs levels.
- Think boiling and steaming. Boiled water is 212 degrees. That's relatively low heat compared to heat from ovens and grills. Using an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker on meats is one way to reduce AGEs. Stews are a great option.
- Poach your eggs instead of frying them. Two poached eggs had just 60 AGEs, compared to 2,400 for two fried in a pan.
- Eat vegetables and fruit to your heart's content. Even grilling vegetables is OK. (Your mother was right.)
- Soups often have low AGEs.
- So does coffee!
Helen Vlassara and Gary Striker, authors of the "AGE-less Diet," said it's helpful to remember that you don't have to eat less to reduce AGEs. Rather, it's about choosing foods that haven't been processed. They said they follow variations of the Mediterranean diet, which features high proportions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Instead of grilling meats, they recommend poaching and stews.
While eating fewer fried foods might seem less than appetizing, the benefits of eating fewer AGEs are numerous, AGEs experts say. They contend that AGEs overload likely is a root cause of pre-diabetes and many other chronic diseases, and that reducing AGEs could reduce the risks of these diseases.
In one study in New York, Vlassara, Jamie Uribarri and a team at Mount Sinai Health Systems, recruited 36 diabetics from upper Manhattan. They taught half how to cook low-AGE meals and told the other half to keep eating as they had been doing.
After four months, they tested the participants’ blood and the results were stunning: Those who had been on the low-AGE diet showed remarkable improvements. Their bloodwork returned to normal, as did markers of chronic inflammation.