• Rajani Katta MD

How Foods That Have High Levels of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) May Be Damaging Your Skin


If Sunday brunch with your friends is a weekly tradition, then the choices you make with your fork every week can add up to a hearty dose of skin saving nutrients.


Or a hefty dose of skin damage.

In the preceding section, you learned all about strategies to maintain stable blood sugar levels. The whole goal of those guidelines is to avoid excess blood sugar, which triggers the formation of sugar protein complexes. Those compounds, known as AGEs, are known collagen threats.


Sugar isn’t the only threat to your skin though. Some foods, such as that bacon you love with brunch, come loaded with their own pre-formed AGEs. And research has found that the AGEs you eat are absorbed into your bloodstream and go on to cause the same kind of damage.

In a study looking at the level of AGEs found in different foods, bacon was one of the top offenders.

AGEs In Food: What To Look Out For

Foods with higher levels of AGEs:

  • Meats have higher levels and moderation should be in place to prevent consuming too much

Cooking methods make a big difference in the levels of AGEs.


  • In general, browning of food is a sign of glycation.

  • Cooking with dry heat, such as by roasting or broiling, dramatically raises levels of AGEs

  • Cooking with fat raises them even more, such as pan- frying or deep-frying





  • The processing methods used on some foods can also increase the AGE count, such as with whipped butter..

  • Crackers, chips, and cookies are other concerning sources of AGEs, likely due to dry-heat processing and ingredients such as butter, oil, and cheese.


Examples of foods with high concentrations of AGEs per standard serving size:

  • Fried Bacon - 11,900 AGEs kU/serving size

  • Broiled Beef Hot Dog - 10,100 AGEs kU/serving size

  • Boiled Beef Hot Dog - 6,700 AGEs kU/serving size

  • Pan Fried Beef - 9,000 AGEs kU/serving size

  • Roasted BBQ Chicken - 7,900 AGEs kU/serving size

*Adapted from research study Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet*


Foods that are lower in AGEs

-Vegetables, beverages, and carbohydrates have lower levels of pre-formed AGEs


-For cooking methods that don’t raise levels of AGEs much, try cooking with moist heat, such as steaming or poaching

-Although roasting and grilling vegetables raises the level of AGEs, the final amount is still much, much lower than what you’d find in meat



**Excerpted from Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods, Younger Skin Diet**

Dr. Rajani Katta is the author of Glow: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet. To receive future updates on preventive dermatology and the role of diet, sign up here.


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© Rajani Katta MD 
2020