From MasterChef to MKR, the world’s best chefs have taught us how to barbecue, grill and pan-fry a steak to perfection. But while the experts may be seeking that extra flavour, new research from the University of South Australia suggests high-heat caramelisation could be bad for our health.
Conducted in partnership with the Gyeongsang National University, the study found that consuming red and processed meat increased a protein compound that may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and complications in diabetes.
“When red meat is seared at high temperatures, such as grilling, roasting or frying, it creates compounds called advanced glycation end products – or AGEs – which, when consumed, can accumulate in your body and interfere with normal cell functions,” Dr Deo says.
“Consumption of high-AGE foods can increase our total daily AGE intake by 25%, with higher levels contributing to vascular and myocardial stiffening, inflammation and oxidative stress – all signs of degenerative disease.”
Published in Nutrients, the study tested the impacts of two diets – one high in red meat and processed grains, and the other high in whole grains, dairy, nuts, legumes and white meat using steaming, boiling, stewing and poaching cooking methods.
It found that the diet high in red meat significantly increased AGE levels in blood, suggesting it may contribute to disease progression.
Co-researcher UniSA’s Professor Peter Clifton says while there are still questions about how dietary AGEs are linked to chronic disease, this research shows that eating red meat will alter AGE levels.
“The message is pretty clear: if we want to reduce heart disease risk, we need to cut back on how much red meat we eat or be more considered about how we cook it.
“Frying, grilling and searing may be the preferred cooking methods of top chefs, but this might not be the best choice for people looking to cut their risk of disease.
“If you want to reduce your risk of excess AGEs, then slow-cooked meals could be a better option for long-term health.”