Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Burnt Food Bad For You?



Short answer

Yes, burnt food is bad for you. Burning food produces hazardous chemicals and removes many nutrients from the food.



Long answer

There are several considerations to bear in mind when examining potential risks associated with the consumption of burnt food. It actually makes a difference what type of food is being eaten and how it is prepared.

Meats, such as beef, pork, fish, or poultry, form the chemical compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) when subjected to a high-temperature cooking process, such as grilling over an open flame or pan-frying. These chemicals have been found to cause changes in the DNA that lead to an increased risk of cancer, as well as Neurological disorders.

HCA formation occurs when certain ingredients in meats react at high temperatures. PAHs result from the combination of fat and meat juices dripping onto the grilling flame. The PAHs are then returned to the meat surface by the action of the flames. The more charred or burnt areas of meat contain higher levels of these two compounds. Another meat preparation process, smoking, also causes the formation of PAHs.

Eating other foods that have been burnt, such as the most commonly burned and consumed food, toast, potatoes, and other pan-fried foods that are accidentally burnt while cooking and show visible charring also puts an individual at an increased risk of cancer. Burnt foods contain the chemical compound acrylamide, which is formed during a reaction in the amino acids, sugars, and water found in potatoes, bread, and other foods when exposed to extreme temperatures. This compound occurs in varying degrees depending on the amount of charring and the length of time they were exposed to the high temperature.

In 2007, a study done in the Netherlands indicated the risk of cancer increased when test subjects ingested acrylamide, especially in women. Other studies with rodents have shown that exposure to acrylamide increases the chance of developing several different types of cancer. Two research organizations, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer both have named acrylamide a “probable human carcinogen”. However, these studies were completed with laboratory animals that were administered acrylamide in drinking water. Toxicology studies reveal a discrepancy in the amount of acrylamide absorbed and the rate of absorption between animals and humans.

There is also less nutritional value in burnt food. The heating process destroys much of the nutritional value of most foods. Many foods, like meats and fish, are not safe to eat raw and should be cooked thoroughly. The healthiest option is to heat foods, like meats and fish, to the recommended temperature to destroy the organisms and bacteria contained in the raw form.

Possible long-term side effects

  • cancer
  • neurological disorders

Ingredients to be aware of

  • hca
  • pah
  • acrylamide

Healthier alternatives

  • cooking foods at properly recommended temperature

Suggest improvement or correction to this article
Written by DeeAnne Oldham | 04-06-2016

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Suggest improvement or correction

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