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Cooking mistakes that can make your food more toxic

Cooking mistakes that can make your food more toxic
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When it comes to cooking, some people pride themselves on being a top chef, others burn everything they touch, and the rest fall somewhere in between. No matter where you are on the cooking spectrum, there are mistakes cooks make in the kitchen that can actually make their food less healthy to eat.

To identify these cooking mistakes, we asked food experts to share their tips on the best – and worst – ways to prepare food when it comes to healthy eating.

Cooking with the wrong fats

Cooking with the wrong fats
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Olive oil, butter, coconut oil… they all have their fans and detractors, but none are the be all and end all. Dietitian, Maggie Michalczyk, recommends doing your homework before buying a jumbo jug of one particular oil and using it for everything. “These oils have different smoke points – that’s the temperature at which they begin to burn – and once they start smoking, the fat breaks down and they can release harmful free radicals into the air,” she says. Be sure to keep portions of oils in check when cooking. This will prevent additional kilojoules.

Check out these brilliant butter hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Overheating healthy oils

Overheating healthy oils
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Oils with low smoke points are better for salad dressings or adding to already cooked foods – but not for high-temperature cooking. “Certain oils, like olive oil and coconut oil, contain nutritional compounds that can be destroyed when heating to high temperatures above their smoke points,” explains Ben Roche, Michelin-star chef and director of product development at Just. For general cooking at home (sautéing, frying, roasting), he recommends using a neutral oil, like grapeseed or sunflower. For flavouring cold sauces and drizzling over prepared food, he suggests using extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil to preserve flavour and nutrition.

Here’s everything you need to know about cooking oils: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Frying your food

Frying your food
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It might taste downright delicious, but consuming deep-fried food on the regular isn’t good for your health. “The act of frying turns otherwise healthy foods, like vegetables and lean meats, into unhealthy, trans-fat-laden treats,” says dietitian, Jeanette Kimszal, which helps people with their health and nutrition lifestyle. (Although many countries and regions have reduced or restricted trans fat in food establishments.) If you can’t shake your fried food obsession, Kimszal suggests purchasing an air fryer. This device requires much less oil to cook your food, so you can still enjoy your favourite foods without unhealthy fat that could possibly hurt your health.

Charring your meat

Charring your meat
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While raw or undercooked meat can pose health hazards, so can overcooked or charred meats. “Cooking meats above 150°C, which usually results from grilling or pan frying, can form compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that may be harmful to human DNA,” warns assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics, Christen Cupples Cooper. “Some research suggests that when metabolised, these compounds may activate enzymes linked to cancer risk.” While the research is limited, Cooper believes there’s enough evidence to recommend reducing your exposure to these chemical compounds. “Avoid cooking foods for any length of time over an open flame or hot metal surface, turn meat frequently during cooking, and cut away charred portions of meat,” she says.

Does eating meat really cause cancer? Read on to find out.

Getting too much salt

Getting too much salt
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If there’s one flavour Australians love in their food, it’s salt. According to the Victorian department of health, the average Australian consumes double the recommended daily allowance of salt. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises that Australian adults should aim to consume no more than one teaspoon (5 grams) of salt a day (or 2000mg of sodium a day) in order to prevent chronic disease. The problem is all the sodium packed into pre-packaged foods: a total of 75 per cent of the sodium in the average Australian diet comes from processed food.

Don’t miss these clear signs you’re eating too much salt.

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Adding too much sugar

Adding too much sugar
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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average Australian consumes 60 grams of free sugars per day – around 14 teaspoons of white sugar. That’s well over and above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended healthy level of six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons of sugar for men each day.

“Desserts are an obvious culprit, but sugar is often hiding in unsuspecting foods, such as dressings, marinades, and sauces,” warns Maya Krampf, founder of Wholesome Yum. “Natural forms of sugar, like honey and maple syrup, are slightly better, but they still spike insulin levels in a similar way as refined sugar.” Instead, she recommends taming your sweet tooth by serving up savoury, liberally seasoned dishes when preparing meals and opting for fruit-centric desserts whenever possible. In recipes calling for sugar, co-founder of Sweet Defeat, Arianne Perry, recommends halving the amount called for. “I do this in baked goods, like banana bread, and no one can taste the difference – it’s so subtle!”

This is what happens to your skin when you eat sugar.

Relying on processed frozen food dishes for weekday meals

Relying on processed frozen food dishes for weekday meals
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It’s tempting to turn to a frozen meal that promises to be ready for you in just minutes in the microwave. This is especially true after a long, stressful day of work. But oftentimes, these foods contain preservatives and chemicals. Remember that humans have only been exposed to these for a very short time in evolutionary history,” says Krampf. “Not only do processed foods leave less room in your diet for healthier foods, but they are loaded with ingredients like artificial preservatives, refined sugar and white flour.” Instead, she recommends opting for whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat whenever possible. And, if you must buy something in a box, choose one with ingredients that you understand.

Drinking alcohol while cooking

Drinking alcohol while cooking
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Unless you’re sipping on a full stomach, experts warn against having that glass of wine while stirring your family’s meal. “Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to an unhealthy spike in blood sugar,” says Michalczyk. “Plus you may notice that the longer you wait to eat after the initial drink, the hungrier you will feel, which may lead you to overdo on whatever food you see next.” Or the opposite can happen: drinking alcohol before a meal might suppress your appetite, causing you to miss out on kilojoules and nutrients your body needs.

Using ‘low-fat’ everything you can find

Using ‘low-fat’ everything you can find
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There was a time when nutrition experts believed that fat was the enemy. But, thankfully, that time has come and gone. We’ve since learned that there are some fats that are good for your health. For example, avocados and fish are full of good fats (omega-3-fatty acids). Krampf warns that not adding enough fat when cooking is a mistake. “In addition to being an energy source and protection for organs, fat is used in cell membrane function, starts reactions that affect the immune system and metabolism, and allow for absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K,” she says.

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Source: RD.com

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