Acrylamide is a chemical that is formed during the high-temperature cooking of certain starchy foods. Frying, baking, and roasting tends to cause high amounts of acrylamide while boiling or steaming only produces a small amount. Common foods that are known to produce high amounts of acrylamide include potato products, grain products, coffee, and roasted nuts. French fries, potato chips, hash browns, bread, toast, cereal, fried rice, cookies, baked flour products, roasted almonds, and coffee beans are a few examples of high-acrylamide foods.
Although studies are inconclusive, acrylamide is known to cause cancer in experimental animals, which is a warning sign for humans. This puts acrylamide on the map as a potential carcinogen, making it wise for us to cut down on our consumption of it. Higher levels of acrylamide are known to be toxic to both humans and animals, causing nerve and neurological damage. The International Agency for Research on Cancer under the World Health Organization classifies acrylamide as "probably carcinogenic to humans" based on the evidence gathered from animal studies.
Fortunately, it is easy to lower your exposure to acrylamide. One way is to start cooking starchy vegetables with water instead of oil. Lower-temperature cooking methods like boiling and steaming have not shown any evidence of acrylamide production. For grain-based foods, don't allow toast or other bread products to brown or burn as these overcooked areas tend to have the highest amounts of acrylamide. Always keep your eyes on anything baking in the oven to prevent overcooking. Faster methods of cooking may help prevent acrylamide build up happening over time. It is beneficial to your health to increase the amounts of raw or lightly steamed fruits and vegetables in your diet and lower the amount of starchy foods like grains and potatoes that produce harmful chemicals when cooked.