Key messages about Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) and nutrition management in diabetes

Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) are produced endogenously and exogenously1. Endogenous AGEs are naturally formed through metabolic and aging processes associated with glucose, proteins and lipids, and these products may lead to impaired kidney function, DNA transcription and protein binding. AGEs can also be produced through enzymatic or oxidation reactions on cell membranes. Hyperglycemia accelerates the formation of endogenous AGEs because the production of AGEs is positively correlated with the concentration of plasma glucose. Exogenous AGEs are primarily formed when the proteins and/or fats in foods interact with glucose and undergo nonenzymatic glycation or Maillard Browning, which gives certain cooked foods their recognizable flavour, colour and odour.

AGEs, once formed in the body or absorbed from foods, are difficult to break down and excrete and therefore, can remain in the body for prolonged periods. Reducing the dietary intake of AGEs and maintaining optimal glycemic control may avert the onset or decrease the acceleration of AGE-related complications in diabetes.

Methods to decrease AGEs in the diet

  1. Eat smaller portions and fewer servings of foods high in fat and protein. Refer to the serving sizes recommended by Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide2.
  2. Try cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, braising, boiling, stewing and roasting with liquids. These methods use a lower temperature, add moisture to foods1 and use little or no additional fat.
  3. Marinate with acids such as lemon juice and vinegar to decrease the pH1, tenderize and increase the flavour of foods while reducing the cooking time. Use unsweetened1 and unsalted marinades more often.
  4. When barbequing, marinate foods first1, then cook foods at a lower temperature. Meat should be cooked enough to eliminate harmful bacteria without producing char. Consider partially cooking in the microwave first to reduce the amount of time needed on the barbeque.
  5. Avoid overcooking foods. Cut off and discard blackened (burnt) areas.
  6. Enjoy vegetables and fruit because they contain antioxidants, which counteract AGEs formation3.
  7. Choose vegetable-based protein products more often as an alternative to animal-based protein foods4.


  1. Hsu, D, Zimmer, V. Dietary advanced glycation end-products and their effects on diabetes complications. Can J Diabetes. 2010;34:136-140.
  2. Health Canada. Eating well with Canada’s food guide. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada. 2007.
  3. Pashikanti, S, de Alba, DR, Boissonneault, GA, Cervantes-Laurean, D. Rutin metabolites : Novel inhibitors of nonoxidative advanced glycation end products. Free Radic Biol Med. 2010;48:656-663.
  4. Uribarri, J, Tuttle R. Advanced glycation end products and nephrotoxicity of high-protein diets. Clin J Am Soc Nehprol. 2006;1:1293-1299.
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