In April 2002, a Swedish scientist discovered that acrylamide, which is not found in the natural state of foods, is formed when cooked at high temperatures. Then, he also scanned the foods of the developed countries of the world, especially America and Europe, for acrylamide. The neurotoxic effect of acrylamide in humans and laboratory animals has been proven. It was also found to cause malignant tumor (cancer) formation in laboratory animals. Although its connection with cancer formation in humans has not yet been fully proven, the International Agency for Research into Cancer has included acrylamide in foods among the ‘potential carcinogenic substances for humans’.
Studies conducted so far have revealed that acrylamide is formed as a result of cooking foods, especially those high in sugar and asparagine, at high temperatures (frying and baking). Asparagine, one of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins, plays a key role in the formation of acrylamide. At high temperatures, protein and sugar react chemically to produce acrylamide. Therefore, higher levels of acrylamide are formed in foods with high asparagine content.
Acrylamide is not normally found in foods. This substance is used in the plastic industry. Acrylamide is among the substances in cigarettes that are thought to cause cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommend that people avoid consuming foods with high acrylamide content as much as possible and eat mostly fresh vegetables and fruits. In the acrylamide surveys in Türkiye conducted at the TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center laboratory, a much higher amount of acrylamide was detected in potatoes cut and frozen as a fast food product, compared to peeling and frying fresh potatoes at home.
Experts say that acrylamide, which is formed as a result of the reaction of the sugar and protein in the food at high temperatures during baking and frying, does not form in boiled dishes. Experts state that some types of biscuits and chips carry a potential cancer risk, and advise people to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, consume boiled foods, and those who do not consume biscuits, chips, breakfast cereals and especially fries will be more profitable in terms of healthy nutrition.
It should not be forgotten that the food culture cooked in pots is a blessing. If we remove harmful junk food from home in order to have a healthier diet, we will be away from such risks.