It is hard to imagine, but products we consume every day contain substances with carcinogenic effects.
One of the most common of these foods is potatoes, and therefore we have to be very careful about how we prepare them: cooking potatoes should never be fried, as due to inappropriate heat treatment acrylamide, a plastic monomer is released.
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is produced naturally in carbohydrate-high foods when these are heated up to high temperatures (above 120 °C) during baking, roasting and grilling, when the moisture content is low.
During industrial food processing and food preparation at home, the so-called “browning” of the food results in more distinct flavors thanks to the so-called Maillard reaction (the reducing reaction of sugars and amino acids), but also in the release of acrylamide.
For example, during processing dextrins (reducing sugars) are added to quick-frozen French fries for a more uniform color. Those manufacturers that produce French fries from fresh potatoes, cut and oil-fried products, potato chips, snacks, salty biscuits, potato products, bread, breakfast cereals and other bakery products should pay particular attention to this effect. Roasted and instant coffee may also contain acrylamide, as well as coffee substitutes and some cereal-based baby foods.
How to prepare potatoes?
Acrylamide is unlikely to be produced when cooking at less than 140 degrees. Depending on the chemical composition, a large amount of acrylamide is produced by heat treatment of certain potato varieties. Therefore, these are recommended to be cooked in water, since cooking involves a much lower temperature than baking.