Last year the FDA found a very dangerous chemical that forms in many common foods during cooking. The chemical is called acrylamide and research suggests that it makes people more susceptible to certain cancers. Acrylamide forms during frying, grilling, baking, roasting, or toasting when the amino acid asparagine reacts with sugars in the food. It is what gives food like potato chips their crunchy-ness and taste.
French Fries, potato chips and other potato products have the most acrylamide in them. Scientists have also found acrylamide in products such as coffee (especially dark roast), roasted nuts, and breakfast cereals. It is estimated that 38% of calories come from food that contains acrylamide. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.
Acrylamide has also been found to affect pregnant women and infants. One study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that high acrylamide intake may be connected to slower and less fetal growth.
There are a couple of things that you can do to limit the effects of acrylamide. The first is cooking/frying/roasting potatoes for a shorter time and toasting bread for a shorter time. Do not let the potatoes become dark brown and do not char/burn your toast. Another thing you can do is cook at a lower heat and use more organic ingredients. You can also eat less potato products, cookies, and pastries and switch to a light roast coffee.
Research on this chemical isn’t totally conclusive so I wouldn’t be too worried about it. However, I will be more careful about the potato products that I eat and the way I cook my food.