While cooking food can kill a large number of potentially dangerous bacteria, not all techniques are safe, the BBC says.
According to the British Food Standards Agency, cooking food at high temperatures (roasting, frying or grilling) causes acrylamide, a chemical used in the industry to make paper, dyes and plastics, and considered a potential risk factor for cancer.
Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as potatoes, root vegetables, toast, cereals, coffee, cakes, and cookies, are the most sensitive. The chemical reaction can be noticed when the starch they contain begins to darken, turn brown or start to look burnt. It is therefore important to avoid overcooking of food.
Cooking fumes and lung cancer
The effects of cooking are not only transmitted by what we eat, but also by what we breathe.
A 2017 study, published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, found that exposure to cooking oil vapors increases the risk of lung cancer. These vapors contain aldehydes, a type of chemical considered to be carcinogenic.
Sunflower oil, processes such as frying and using the frying pan pose a greater risk of producing these aldehydes. It is therefore preferable to use oils low in unsaturated fats, such as palm or rapeseed oil.
Over the last century, cooking techniques have evolved and diversified. Microwaves, electric hotplates and toasters are now an alternative.
Scientific studies show that the best technique for storing vitamins and nutrients in food is to favor short cooking times and use as little liquid as possible. Using a microwave or steam are therefore good cooking methods.
However, while some types of cooking are risky, avoiding cooked foods completely can be far more damaging. A German study of people who had eaten a diet of raw food for several years revealed the harmful effects of such a diet. Men lost about 9 kg, while women lost about 12 kg.
At the end of the study, a significant proportion of people were underweight and about a third of women stopped regular menstruation.