In a new study in mice, researchers have found a link between a compound produced when food is cooked with dry heat -- like over a grill -- and weight gain, insulin resistance and diabetes.
When the compound, called methyl-glyoxal, a kind of advanced glycation endproduct, was fed to mice, Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers found that the mice went on to gain weight around their abdomens. They also developed early insulin resistance.
However, mice that were not given the compound -- but were otherwise fed the same diet as the mice given the compound -- did not go on to gain the extra body fat or develop insulin resistance. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Methyl-glyoxal may affect the mice by decreasing the ability of bodily mechanisms like SIRT1, which is responsible for controlling inflammation, as well as aiding in glucose and insulin metabolism, researchers said. In other words, it may decrease the mice's ability to control inflammation in their bodies.
"The study demonstrates how the prolonged ingestion of seemingly innocuous substances common in human food, such as MG [methyl-glyoxal], can reduce defenses and compromise native resistance to metabolic and other diseases," study researcher Dr. Helen Vlassara, M.D., director of theDivision of Experimental Diabetes and Aging at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said in a statement. "The mouse findings are also quite exciting because they provide us with new tools, not only to study, but to begin taking measures to prevent diabetes, either by suppressing their formation or by blocking their absorption with our food."
Even though this research was only in mice, the findings suggest that people might want to opt to eat meat that's been cooked with lower heat or moisture, such as steamed, stewed or poached meat, researchers said.
Recently, a study in the journal Carcinogenesis showed that meat that's been cooked in a pan might carry health risks, too.
That study, conducted by scientists at the University of Southern California and Cancer Prevention Institute of California, showed that men who eat one-and-a-half servings of pan-fried red meat each week have a 30 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
And the researchers found that the risk went up the more pan-fried meat the men ate -- men who ate two-and-a-half servings of pan-fried red meat was linked with a 40 percent higher risk of having advanced prostate cancer.