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Cooking Methods Make a Difference in Avoiding Diabetes, Mount Sinai Study Finds

Mary Caffrey
Researchers found that changing cooking methods could allow people at risk of developing diabetes to reverse damage done by things like grilling and frying their food.
If you’re at risk of diabetes, the outdoor grill and the deep fryer are not your friends, according researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

A study published in the journal Diabetologia found that cooking methods—not just the food itselfcontributes to diabetes risk in obese persons with insulin resistance.

It’s all about the role of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which occur with common cooking of food processing methods, such as frying, grilling, or even baking.

A randomized controlled trial confirmed results from a 2014 article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That study, led by Helen Vlassara, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, examined the role of AGEs.

Western diets are loaded with AGEs, but the 2014 study found that avoiding them could reverse the damage. That means using other cooking methods, such as poaching, steaming, or stewing.

Vlassara said both the original study and the new one show that just changing cooking methods offers a new clinical approach to preventing diabetes for those who have clinical markers that put them at risk.

“While food AGEs are prevalent, particularly in Western diets, our study showed that avoiding foods high in AGEs could actually reverse the damage that had been done,” she said.

In the trial, blood and urine samples at the start and finish confirmed insulin resistance. The 2 groups of participants had similar levels of insulin resistance at the start of the trial, but by the end, the group that ate a diet low in AGEs had markedly improved insulin resistance, lower levels of AGEs, and they had also lost some weight. The other group, by contrast, had even higher levels of AGEs in the body, and more markers of insulin resistance.

“Elevated serum AGEs in individuals can be used as a marker to diagnose and treat ‘at risk’ obesity in patients,” said Jaime Uribarri, MD, professor of medicine at Mount Sinai, another investigator in the study. “Even without losing a significant amount of weight, a reduced AGE diet can help prevent diabetes in these patients.”

An estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes, and those with the condition are 5 to 15 times more likely to progress to diabetes. Medicare is poised to start funding diabetes prevention programs starting in 2018.


Vlassara H, Weijing C, Tripp E et al. Oral AGE restriction ameliorates insulin resistance in obese individuals with the metabolic syndrome: a randomised controlled trial [published online August 24, 2016]. Diabetologia, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-016-4053-x

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