What is it?
Acrylamide is a chemical which can be created in some foods when they are cooked in certain ways at high temperatures (typically above 120°C). It is mostly high starchy food like potatoes/chips and grain based items (cookies, biscuits, crisps, bread) that will develop the most acrylamide I’m sorry to say this as I hated learning this fact, it does mean that those delicious sweet potato chips will contain high amounts of acrylamide, although if you boil the sweet potato then it is fine as boiling, steaming and microwaving don’t exceed the temperatures required.
Other Options: I’ve tried parsnip chips myself which pair well with hummus & used boiled mashed sweet potato in brownies by heating the mix for about 1-2 hours at 80°C, you could also slice thin veg crisps (carrot, parsnip) & dehydrate these for a few hours below 100°C, plus you get to add your own seasoning e.g chilli powder if you like it spicy, so it’s not all bad =]
How does it form?
Acrylamide forms during cooking processes like baking, roasting and frying as these methods tend to use high temperatures that aid the interaction between amino acids (mainly asparagine) and sugars in the food, which is why sweet potato chips are actually worse than white chips in this regard. . . and yes a little part of me just died too =’(
, as mentioned below, tolerable limits are hard to set for each person so that doesn’t mean you have to give up your chips forever, just keep this information in mind and moderate where you can. I try to use information like this to empower, not deprive. I truly mean this, as I am also in the same boat.
What does it do?
Many animal studies have food that acrylamide may cause cancer & workers who have handled the chemical & been exposed to high amounts have suffered neurological effects. However
, as the main source for the majority of us is from food & we all consume different types & amounts of food, it’s hard to say exactly what the impacts will be for each individual, therefore moderating/limiting its intake if possible is the sensible recommendation.
How do I limit/avoid its effects?
· Regarding items such as toast, don’t overcook it, i.e. don’t wait until its black to eat it, only cook it as long as is needed to turn it crispy or until it’s slightly golden.
· Use methods such as steaming or boiling for potatoes if you can
Reduce your intake of the worst offenders: chips, cakes, biscuits, crisp breads.
· Soaking chips/potato slices in water before baking/roasting reduces acrylamide
· Cut off burnt bits of toast etc
· Choose oven baked rather than deep fat fried chips
· If possible, lower your temp to below 120°C for the high risk foods
To summarise, I share information like this to empower people, so that those who want to moderate, can, and therefore if in a few years the newspapers are posting scary headlines about this topic you won’t look back and think oh no I ate so many of those without knowing, at least now you can think “I was aware of that and I did the best I could & what I felt was right for me”.
Much love xx