Vitamin B3 may inhibit the formation of acrylamide in French fries by over 50%, according to a new study from China.
The researchers tested the effects of 15 vitamins, both water- and fat-soluble, on the formation of the cancer-causing acrylamide in a model chemical system containing asparagines and glucose (the precursors for acrylamide), and in a model food system (fried potato strips). According to their findings, only vitamins B3 (nicotinic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) inhibited acrylamide formation by over 70% in the chemical model (1).
The effectiveness of vitamin B3 was eventually corroborated in fried potato strips, thus suggesting its great potential for application in food processing to decrease acrylamide formation in fried or baked foods.
Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. This process is responsible for the brown color and tasty flavor of baked, fried and toasted foods. Despite being a carcinogen in the laboratory, many epidemiological studies have reported that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern.
Further studies are needed to characterize the action mechanism of the vitamins that showed strong inhibitory activity against the formation of acrylamide.