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What are AGEs?

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   01/22/23

Cooking  Disease  Nutrition  

Advanced Glycation End Products accumulate naturally throughout your lifetime and are created through cooking certain foods at high temperatures. They are made when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream in a process called glycation. AGEs can also form within foods during grilling, frying, or toasting.

Your metabolic health relates to your body having optimal blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference without the need for medical interference. In addition to obesity, AGEs can have a powerful effect on your metabolic health, regardless of your weight. Factors that affect your metabolism are also hindered with excess AGEs in the body.1,2

How are AGEs Created?

Diet is the biggest contributing factor to accumulating AGEs.

Consuming too many AGEs overwhelms your body's ability to eliminate them, so they accumulate. Lower levels are not a concern and are unavoidable in our standard diets today. However, excess AGEs have been shown to cause oxidative stress and inflammation.

Some consequences of AGEs accumulation include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Alzheimer's
  • Premature aging

People with higher blood sugar levels are also at an increased risk of producing too many AGEs.2

The Modern Diet and AGEs

In today's modern diet, there are a few foods which contain relatively high amounts of AGEs and should be minimized and avoided where possible. Most are the result of cooking practices such as grilling, barbecuing, roasting, frying, baking, sautéing, broiling, searing, and toasting. Dry heat actually increased the risk of developing AGEs by 10-100 times compared to uncooked foods. As for the foods undergoing these cooking methods, foods higher in fat and protein are more susceptible to AGEs development.

Foods with relatively high portions of AGEs include meat (especially red meat), some cheeses, fried eggs, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, oils, and nuts, as well as fried and processed foods.

Therefore, while your diet may be considered reasonably healthy, the cooking methods you employ may be causing you to consume an unhealthy amount of AGEs that can impact your overall health.2

Health Risks of AGEs

Fortunately, your body has natural ways of eliminating AGEs as you consume them. Unfortunately, the capacity at which your body has to do this is often below the amount consumed in our modern diet. The excess AGEs build up in your body and have negative health consequences.

In fact, most of the majority of chronic diseases are associated in some way with AGEs buildup. Some of these include diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and Alzheimer's.

Reducing AGEs consumption in the diet has been directly linked to a reduction in the risks of developing these chronic diseases, levels of inflammation and oxidative stress, and premature aging.2

How Much is Too Much?

AGEs consumption is recommended to not exceed 15,000 kilo-units per day, though most people exceed this. For a general idea of whether you consume too many, if your diet consists of consuming grilled or roasted meats, solid fats, full-fat dairy, and highly processed foods, you're likely consuming in excess of what your body can effectively process.

Meanwhile, if you consume a more plant-based and raw diet, you are likely to be within the green zone of what your body is capable of effectively processing. Further, foods prepared with a moist heat like soups and stews are also safer methods of consumption.2

Ways to Reduce AGEs

Cooking Methods

Substituting your cooking methods is the most effective way to reduce AGEs consumption. As opposed to dry heat cooking, opting for methods like stewing, poaching, boiling, and steaming are healthier alternatives with lower prevalence of AGEs developing. Cooking with a moist heat for a shorter period of time is the safest method available.2

Added Ingredients and Cookware

Further, research has shown that cooking with acidic ingredients like vinegar, tomato juice, or lemon juice can reduce AGEs by up to 50%. Finally, cooking with ceramic cookware or in slow cookers are the healthiest appliances for avoiding AGE production.2

Reducing Food High in AGEs

Some foods, especially animal foods which are high in fat and protein, tend to be higher in AGEs than others. Some include meat, some cheeses, fried eggs, butter, cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, oils, and nuts. Eliminating or changing the cooking methods for these foods and opting for a higher concentration of fresh, whole foods can help you reduce AGEs in your diet.3

Eat More Antioxidants

Vitamin C and quercetin have been shown to reduce AGE formation, as well as compounds found in turmeric and the skins of fruits like grapes, blueberries, and in raspberries. A diet full of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices may help minimize the levels of AGEs in your diet.2

Get Moving

Inactivity can hinder the elimination process within the body of AGEs and cause the accumulation to drastically increase. However, an active lifestyle with regular exercise has demonstrated the ability of the body to reduce AGEs much more efficiently and effectively.3

Know You Know

AGEs are harmful compounds that contribute to a wide variety of chronic illnesses. They are created primarily through cooking involving animal protein and fat and with methods involving the use of dry heat, such as grilling, barbecuing, etc. Your body can naturally eliminate AGEs, however, our modern diet consumes AGEs in such excess that they accumulate in the body and cause negative consequences. Opting for different cooking methods and a higher concentration of fresh, whole foods in your diet reduce your AGEs accumulation significantly and can improve your overall metabolic health.



headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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