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Don’t Grill Your Meat Bare! Use 2 Tricks to Avoid Harmful Food Compounds Linked to Brain Fog


Summer is here and the living is easy! The only hitch? Sneaky compounds in summer fare can trigger the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

AGEs are proteins or lipids containing an extra sugar molecule as a result of exposure to sugar in the body. These bad guys are linked to everything from brain fog to saggy skin to blue moods. Plus, some research suggests that they’re a hidden trigger of joint aches. Luckily, reducing AGEs may cut pain risk. And doing so involves just two simple steps…

#1 AGE Source: Grilled Meats

When foods with protein and fat (like juicy BBQ burgers) are cooked at high temperatures, AGEs are produced. And since the caramelized burn that occurs during searing accelerates their formation, the compounds can abound in grilled meats and poultry.

The easy fix? Start with a marinade! Bathe beef, chicken or pork in a vinegar or lemon juice–based marinade for 60 minutes before grilling. Doing so lowers AGEs by a significant amount, research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests. Natural acids thwart the heat-induced chemical reaction that causes AGEs to form. Also smart: grilling on foil, which cuts down on AGEs-laden smoke that’s produced when fats drip onto flames.

#2 AGE Source: Sweet Treats

AGEs are also made by the body when excess sugar in some of our favorite treats (like milkshakes, frozen yogurt, and pies) builds up in the bloodstream. Plus, sugar can hide in sneaky places, including condiments like ketchup and bottled dressings.

Don’t want to forego all sweets? Sipping a cup of pomegranate juice — mix it with sparkling water for a refreshing mocktail — blunts the process of glycation that causes AGEs to form. In fact, research in the Journal of Medicinal Food shows the juice brims with polyphenols that inhibit glycation by 98 percent. Also smart: supplementing with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily. University of Scranton research suggests doing so slashes AGEs by 47 percent in four weeks. Vitamin C fights free radicals, marauding molecules that set the production of AGEs in motion.

Watch what you eat with a simple online tool.

This bonus tip is the easy way to eat healthy on vacation! For travelers who don’t want to spend hours researching restaurants with tasty and nutritious fare, the Templeton List can help!

Created by health advocate and author James Templeton, the list rates eateries based on use of locally sourced ingredients, avoidance of unhealthy oils, and chemicals and safety of preparation methods. Whether you have a gluten allergy, sensitive stomach, or just want to eat smart, the list makes dining on vacation a cinch.

Courtesy of Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Radical Longevity (Buy from Amazon, $24.99).

Try this grilled beef ‘n’ veggie skewers recipe!

This tasty marinated dish reduces AGEs in your food.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pound sirloin steaks, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
  • 3 peppers, cut into ¼ -inch pieces
  • ½ red onion, cut into chunks


  1. In large bowl, whisk olive oil and soy sauce until combined. Add steak, peppers, and onion. Cover; chill 2 hours.
  2. Prepare grill for medium direct-heat cooking. Assemble meat and veggies on 8 skewers; cook, turning, until center of meat registers 140 degrees Fahrenheit, 9 to 10 minutes.

Note: If you are avoiding salt and don’t want to use soy sauce, try the low-sodium, MSG-free, flavor-packed Casa M. Spice Cattle Ranch Seasoning (Buy a 3-pack seasoning set from Amazon, $51.99).

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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