How to Eat Your Burger
Who doesn’t love a burger!! I love burgers and they are one of my absolute favorite treats. I am gluten free so opt for the naked burger (wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of the bun) and loaded with all the trimmings: mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, gherkins and sauces.
One day whilst I was sitting in my Cancer lecture whilst studying Nutrition my jaw just dropped open. The topic was foods that can initiate the cancer process. As we went through the different items all I could think about was my burger. There are four categories that create and sustain the growth of cancer cells, that are:
1- Acrylamides are created when starchy foods such as potatoes are baked or fried at high temperatures.
2- Heterocyclic amine (HCAs) When meats are cooked at high temperatures
3- N-nitroso compounds- Used on meat to keep it bright red and keep it tasting meaty
4- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)– When vapors of the coal, oil, or smoke get entrenched in and flavor the food.
OK – so that pretty much sums up my burger right there… Its being cooked at a high temperature with coals or oils and I am always having it with some fries!! This denaturing of food does have an effect on our body and can produce harm but there is actually lots that we can do to negate this effect and keep eating burgers without guilt.
There was a study that was done comparing the inflammatory markers in individuals who ate just a burger and those who ate a burger with half an avocado. They found that those people who ate the burger with the avocado prevented most of the negative effects. The group having the normal burger saw inflammatory markers increase significantly 4 hours after consumption. No change was observed in IL-6 (an inflammatory marker) when having the burger with the avocado. In addition to this, the group having just the burger saw their triglycerides increase – but the group having it with the avocado did not.
Another study took herbs and mixed them into patties before cooking. They then measured the HCA levels and found that both turmeric and rosemary were effective in reducing the negative effects of having food cooked at high temperatures.
You also get dietary protection from cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower etc) as they contain indol-3-carbinol and sulphoraphane which are blocking agents and foods containing beta carotene, curcumin and ginger all have a suppressing effect. I think you’re getting the picture …
So my conclusion is, enjoy your burger but when you are indulging, also order that salad and indulge in it too … The antioxidants and phytochemicals all those different colours contain have so many beneficial effects on our health and can mitigate the harm caused by other foods. It is reason enough to add some colour to that burger, or any other meal that you may be enjoying.
Li Z, Wong A, Henning SM, Zhang Y, Jones A, Zerlin A, Thames G, Bowerman S, Tseng CH, Heber D. Hass avocado modulates postprandial vascular reactivity and postprandial inflammatory responses to a hamburger meal in healthy volunteers. Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):384-91. doi: 10.1039/c2fo30226h.
Puangsombat K, Jirapakkul W, Smith JS. Inhibitory activity of Asian spices on heterocyclic amines formation in cooked beef patties. J Food Sci. 2011 Oct;76(8):T174-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02338.x. Epub 2011 Sep 13.