Acrylamide in Foods – What It Is, Toxicity, Risks and Tips
Have you heard of acrylamide? Acrylamide is a chemical that still raises a lot of doubt in the scientific world. Despite tests already performed in laboratories, it is not possible to say with certainty what are the effects of acrylamide in food for our health.
It is known that depending on the amount consumed, acrylamide is potentially toxic, as this is indicated by animal studies, but there is still more evidence to state that its effect is the same in humans.
We can find small amounts of acrylamide in raw foods, but a chemical reaction involving two important ingredients very present in our food happens when these foods are raised at high temperatures.
Apart from food, it is possible to find it in some industrial products, such as papers, glues, asphalt, adhesives, packaging and some cosmetics.
Being so present in our day-to-day life, it is worth taking away all doubts about what it is, what are the risks that acrylamide in food can bring to our health to some tips not to be vulnerable to its potential harms .
But what, after all, is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a substance formed from the cooking of some foods at high temperatures, above 120?C, through chemical reactions between sugars and amino acids, especially asparagine.
In addition to finding acrylamide in food, it can also be found in industrially made products such as paper, tincture, plastics, cigarettes and even some cosmetic products. Some product packaging and adhesives may also contain acrylamide.
How is acrylamide produced?
Some types of amino acids that we consume through our diet are an important part of our body’s production of acrylamide, especially asparagine.
This amino acid is present in most protein-rich foods. The amino acid asparagine is important for the proper functioning of our body, so much so that it is also produced through the liver.
However, researchers have found that this beneficial amino acid undergoes a chemical change when heated at temperatures greater than 120 ? C in the presence of sugars. This chemical reaction transforms the amino acid and sugar into acrylamide.
This is especially true in frying, baking and grilling. No evidence has yet been found that the same amount of acrylamide is produced when food is cooked through boiling water or the microwave.
Researchers in the United States and Europe have found that acrylamide is produced only if it reaches temperatures in excess of 120 ? C and that prolonged, long exposure of these foods rich in asparagine and sugars at these temperatures may further increase production Of acrylamide in food.
Currently there is a concern about the consumption of acrylamide in food. This chemical is believed to be a cancer-causing agent in a number of health agencies. This is because many animal tests have already been performed and all of them indicate that acrylamide influences the genetic mutation and the formation of some types of cancer in them.
However, there is no research or study that claims that acrylamide can cause cancer in humans, since the level of absorption of the substance is quite different in human and laboratory mice.
Some studies in Europe indicate that acrylamide may be associated with breast cancer in women who are past menopause and also in the kidneys, but more conclusive tests are still needed to confirm this suspicion.
Acrylamide has also been associated with damage to the nervous system, indicating that it may act as a neurotoxin, but there is also a lack of more conclusive evidence.