Lamb cutlets served with roasted potatoes, baby peas, and onions.

Changing the way that we cook our food could reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study looking into the possibility of improving health by cooking foods differently.

New research has uncovered surprising evidence that grilling and baking foods might also be increasing our risk of metabolic health conditions.

This ‘dry-heat’ cooking has been found to promote the development of certain molecules in food as they cook, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The study investigated whether the effects could be reduced by cooking with water (boiling, steaming or stewing food, for example) in people who were already at a high risk of a metabolic health condition.

Higher levels of AGEs have been linked to increased insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which have been connected to type 2 diabetes.

Dr Jaime Uribarri, lead author of the study and professor of medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said “When you look at people with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes or dementia put on a high-AGE diet or a low one, those on the low-AGE diet show signs of decreasing inflammation.”

He and his colleagues randomly assigned the 100 participants of the study to one of two diet groups – one which was low-in AGEs, and one which replicated the regular amount of AGEs in a person’s diet.

All of the participants were over the age of 50 and were positive for two of: a large waist circumference, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, or high fasting blood glucose results.

Those in the low-AGE diet group were given instruction on how to avoid AGEs, namely by boiling, steaming, poaching or stewing their food instead.

A dietician met with the group twice a week, and each person every three months, in order to review their cooking methods and to help them to adhere to the study’s parameters.

It was found that the low-AGE diet improved all the health measures that the researchers looked at, including insulin resistance and a reduced weight, while no other side effects were observed.

However, the researchers note that the study size was very limited, as was the diversity of the participants. The results need to be demonstrated again with a larger study and with populations from different locations and different ways of life and traditions.