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Acrylamide: what it is and why you should avoid it


The acrylamide is currently one of the substances of which more is being talked about in relation to health. It is a chemical compound that develops during the thermal process of certain foods, during which they are exposed to temperatures above 120º . It is common to find acrylamide in everyday products such as French fries, coffee, or even baby food, among others.

Although for the moment current regulations do not require that the labeling must report the concentration of this substance, the truth is that the awareness of both consumers and the food industry around acrylamide is increasing. Recently a court in California has ruled that Starbucks must report the risk of cancer due to the presence of acrylamide in coffee.

How is it created and what are its effects?

Acrylamide is a chemical substance that occurs completely naturally in foods rich in carbohydrates , such as bread or potatoes. It arises when these foods are subjected to temperatures above 120º in dry environments , with low humidity; that is, by frying or roasting them.

The chemical process by which acrylamide is created is known as the Maillard reaction . One of the main components that participates in it is asparagine, an amino acid; reducing sugars also play a key role in this process. Thus, the Maillard reaction causes food to turn brown, and even changes its natural flavor.

One of the aspects that most worries both consumers and companies in the food sector has to do with the effects that acrylamide has on health. Well, the truth is that the International Agency for Research on Cancer understands acrylamide as a risk factor in humans.

Of course, the way in which this chemical compound affects the body is different depending on age. As we have pointed out, acrylamide is common in foods for the little ones , such as baby food or cereals; a very harmful compound for children and babies due to its toxicity.

Acrylamide: health effects

In recent years, a large number of experiments with laboratory animals have been carried out. Well, these have shown that this chemical can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer.

However, so far it has not been possible to know precisely the amount of acrylamide from which this component is considered toxic and dangerous to health. It is worth knowing that acrylamide never accumulates in the body; what’s more, its biodegradation occurs very quickly.

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Acrylamide foods

Now that we have known what acrylamide is and what its health effects are, it is worth knowing the list of processed foods with the highest concentration of this compound.

  • French fries: they are one of the processed foods with a higher acrylamide content, especially those that are advertised as “extra-fine” and “extra-crunchy.”
  • Bread: bread is another of the foods that contains this chemical substance in all its versions: soft, witchy …
  • Coffee: the type of coffee with the highest acrylamide content is that of strong roast.
  • Pastry: a large selection of pastry products, such as cakes, cookies or snacks, among others.
  • Baby foods: acrylamide is also common in certain foods for children, such as baby food or cereals.

Tips to prevent acrylamide from forming in food

There are a number of precautions that we must take at home to prevent this chemical from being created in certain foods.

We have to pay special attention to food preparation . For example, in the case of potatoes, we must remove them from the pan before they turn golden. In the same way, it is advisable to remove the sliced ​​bread from the toaster before it is over-toasted.

When we fry food, the ideal is that the temperature is not higher than 170º ; in the same way, the oven temperature should never exceed 200º maximum. When preparing food in the oven, a good trick to avoid acrylamide formation is to turn the food halfway through the cooking time.

In the case of potatoes, it is advisable not to keep them in the refrigerator since the cold somehow stimulates the production of this substance; also, it is advisable to wash them before frying them. As for the batters, it is best to fry them at a low temperature and clean the oil very well since the crumbs in the pan contain high amounts of acrylamide.

Without a doubt, a good way to avoid ingesting acrylamide in excess is to eat a rich and varied diet, with a high consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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