What are Advanced Glycation Endproducts?

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You may be fielding questions about the health hazards of AGEs – advanced glycation endproducts. These compounds, produced during high temperature cooking, may promote oxidation and inflammation and may be partly responsible for diabetic complications. AGEs provide flavor, color and aroma to cooked foods. If you see grill marks on your chicken or a seared crust on brisket, you are looking at AGEs. They are formed when sugars in food combine with protein, fat or other compounds.

According to Helen Vlassara, MD, director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of The AGE-Less Way, scientists used to believe that AGEs consumed with food were excreted in the feces and thus harmless. It appears, however, that we absorb about 10% of the AGEs we eat. That’s more than we used to consume because of our increasing portions of meats and fatty foods. Vlassara’s research suggests that restricting AGEs reduces inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidation. If your patients are looking to improve their diets beyond carb counting, calorie control and other typical dietary changes, you can help them reduce their intake of AGEs.

  • Cook meats with low moist heat and reduce portions. Meats contribute a large amount of AGEs.
  • Marinate meats and cook with vinegar. Acids help prevent the formation of AGEs when cooking at high temperatures.
  • Grill fruits and vegetables instead of meats. They will still contain AGEs, but far fewer than grilled meats.
  • Go low-fat. High-fat foods like regular cheeses have more AGEs than low-fat foods.
  • Avoid heavily processed foods because they are likely high in AGEs.

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE

References and More Information:

Peppa, M, Uribarri J, Vlassara H. Glucose, Advanced Glycation End Products, and
Diabetes Complications: What is New and What Works? Clinical Diabetes. 2003. Vol.
21. No. 4; 186-187.

Uribarri J, Cai W et al. Restriction of advanced glycation end products improves insulin
resistance in human type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 34:1610–1616, 2011

Vlassara H and Striker Gary E. AGE restriction in diabetes mellitus: a paradigm shift.
Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. Advance online publication 24 May 2011; doi:10.1038/

The AGE-Less Way by Helen Vlassara

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