When it comes to cooking at home, most health-conscious folks would probably say that their aim is to prepare wholesome, savory meals in the cleanest way possible for their families. However, unless these foods are cooked properly at the right temperatures and for the appropriate lengths of time, they could still be harmful to your health even if they are organic.
In addition to the more obvious precautions such as choosing only chemical-free produce and pasture-raised meats and cooking with only healthy saturated fats at higher heat, home cooks also need to pay attention to the ways in which they cook these foods.
Certain foods—carbohydrates in particular—can release toxins when they are cooked at too high of a temperature or for too long.
Raw potato is 79% water, 17% carbohydrates , 2% protein, contains negligible fat. In a 100 gram amount, raw potato provides 77 calories and is a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, with no other nutrients in significant amount. When a potato is baked, contents of vitamin B6 and vitamin C decline with little significant change in other nutrients.
Potatoes are often broadly classified as high on the glycemic index (GI) and so are often excluded from the diets of individuals trying to follow a low-GI diet. The GI of potatoes can vary considerably depending on type, origin, preparation methods, and with what it is consumed. Consuming reheated or cooled potatoes that were previously cooked may afford a lower GI effect.
But, when cooked improperly, potatoes are one such food that can generate a poisonous substance known as acrylamide that animal studies have shown can cause cancer. This white, odorless, water-soluble chemical is generated when starchy foods are cooked at temperatures higher than 250 degrees Fahrenheit or 121 degrees Celsius. Potatoes (including sweet potatoes), grains, and even coffee, all generate acrylamide during cooking and/or roasting.
Temperature is not the only thing that matters; cooking time is also an important consideration. For example, when potatoes are cooked above the aforementioned temperature threshold, they continue to progressively produce more acrylamide the longer they are cooked. For this reason, it is important for home cooks to pay attention to both temperature and cooking duration when preparing food for their families at home.
But, easy way to minimize acrylamide formation in carbohydrate foods is to blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes prior to frying, baking, or broiling. You can soak potatoes in cold water for 15 to 30 minutes prior to cooking; make sure to drain the water and blot them dry before exposing them to hot oils and fats so they don’t splash and cause burns or fires.