By Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD wendybazilian.com @eatmovebe
Acrylamide is actually found in many foods but the ‘stars’ (or rather, villains) as far as what people consume most frequently that contain or produce acrylamides are potatoes, breads and coffee.
8 ways you can reduce acrylamide in your diet:
1. Fry food rarely (or never) and reduce the frequency and portions of French fries and potato chips you consume. (OK, this is just good basic nutrition advice, but here we’re talking specifically aboutacrylamide.) The biggest offenders (and highest levels) of acrylamide in our diets appear to come from consumption of potato chips and French fries.
2. Toast and cook breads, potatoes and other starches more lightly. Crisper and darker foods (toasted, brown, or burnt) dial up the likelihood of increased acrylamide formation. Darker toast = more acrylamide.
3. Cook at lower temperatures when possible. Higher temperatures will lead to more acrylamide formation in these foods. Cooking at temperatures above approximately 250 degrees Fahrenheit will increase the production of this chemical.
4. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place and NOT in the refrigerator. Storing potatoes in the refrigerator will increase the amount of acrylamide that is produced when they are cooked.
5. Soak raw potatoes in water for 15-30 minutes after cutting or slicing them and then drain the water before cooking. This will reduce the acrylamide that will form when cooking.
6. Steer clear of instant coffee and consider purchasing specialty store or special label (and fair trade, of course) whole bean coffee. Acrylamide is formed in coffee due to the roasting process. The coffee industry has found however (though the evidence is not conclusive) that acrylamide degrades or is reduced as the roasting process is completed, and also once the coffee has been brewed, although the mechanisms are not understood. The FDA has reported that grocery store bought ground coffee, especially instant coffee, seems to have higher levels.
7. Buy less of processed, refined carbohydrates like store-bought cookies, crackers, toasted breakfast cereals, and other baked goods made from flour.
8. Eat low acrylamide producing or containing foods. Foods that are low in sugars and high in antioxidants like fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds are examples. A survey of individual foods in 2010 showed that these foods those foods that were low in sugar and high in antioxidants generally have lower levels of acrylamide (or its precursors). This provides yet another reason to eat those fruits and vegetables and the other foods from the plant kingdom in abundance for good health.
Wendy Bazilian is a doctor of public health, registered dietitian and freelance writer in San Diego. She is an advisor to the spa industry and co-owns Bazilian’s Health Clinic with her husband and business partner, Dr. Jason Bazilian. Dr. Wendy is author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale). Wendy has been an expert consultant to McCormick, Inc. for many years and knows her way around the science (and use!) of herbs and spices.
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