Along with other foods prepared the same way, they pose a hidden danger, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin, especially for diabetics.
We already know that frying foods is unhealthy, but now scientists say even grilling and broiling — cooking anything at high temperatures — could be wreaking havoc on the heart.
"It's very simple: avoid broiling, frying, grilling," Said Mt. Sinai School of Medicine endocrinologist Dr. Helen Vlassara. "Opt for something simpler: boiling, steaming."
The reason is that browned, crispy foods, like that Thanksgiving turkey you just ate, are loaded with proteins called AGEs which interact with sugar in the body to cause hardening of the arteries.
They are particularly dangerous to type 2 diabetics who can't regulate blood sugar.
"AGEs are deposited everywhere over time — in the kidneys, in the vessels of the eyes and they have been implicated in all of these major complications from diabetes," Said Vlassara.
Scientists are aware that the body produces its own AGEs, but in recent studies they were surprised to discover that the quantity of AGEs increases drastically depending on the way food is cooked.
"You have a roasted turkey, you have the slices, it will have approximately three times as many AGEs as the steamed turkey over there," said Mt. Sinai dietician Terry Goldberg.
In trials done at Mount Sinai in New York, diabetics were given roasted and baked foods, or those cooked at low temperatures or without being browned
After several weeks patients on the low AGE diet showed improvement.
Steaming turkey, however, is not likely to have much appeal.
Scientists like Dr. David Kass are also trying to develop drugs to fight AGEs. He believes they may afflict a much larger population than we think.
"What's new is our appreciation that you don't need diabetes for this to happen, that this is part of the normal aging process, that it's involved in many kinds of diseases where these things are accumulating to cause organ level dysfunction," said Kass, of Johns Hopkins University.
Whether the solution will be found in pills or poaching is still unclear. What is clear is that Americans, already struggling with epidemic obesity and diabetes now have another, more hidden dietary villain to battle.