What Are Acrylamides:

Why They're Bad News And What You Need To Know About Your BBQ

by Janet Smith, PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Writer

In the wake of a wave of recent studies about acrylamides and their possible link to cancer, people are talking a lot about these dangerous substances. Yet most people would be hard-pressed to name a food that has acrylamides in it, or to tell you exactly what an acrylamide is, or what it does to the body.
Just what are acrylamides, and why are they so dangerous to our health? Acrylamides are potent compounds that cause genetic mutations, resulting in the development of various cancers. Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that acrylamide forms as a byproduct in foods when they are fried, baked, roasted, grilled, or barbequed.  Steamed or boiled foods, on the other hand, do not contain these compounds. Deep fried foods, in particular high carbohydrate foods such as fries and potato chips, have been shown to have the highest levels of acrylamides. Noted nutrition expert Joel Fuhrman, MD, states that “the safest way to cook food is steaming”, and expressed concern that more MDs and public health agencies are not actively informing people about this issue.
Acrylamides are some of the most potent known cancer-causing agents. While the European Union has strict regulations that limit the amount of these compounds in food, the United States has no such restrictions. In fact, many foods that children regularly consume contain high amounts of acrylamides-for example, processed breakfast cereals, both sweetened and unsweetened types.
It is important to note that Dr. Fuhrman stresses that avoiding acrylamides should be only one part of a larger push towards a more nutritious and less processed diet. As he states, “toxic agents, nutritional excesses, and nutritional deficiencies act in concert to establish a cellular environment favorable for cancer development.” Unfortunately, the typical American diet is rife with all of the above. Eliminating or reducing acrylamides from the diet is only one step on the road to a healthier life, but an important one nonetheless.

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