NEW YORK (CBS Atlanta) – Compounds that come from heated meats have been linked to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, which are commonly found in Western diets, cause brain changes similar to Alzheimer’s disease and pre-diabetes.

AGEs occur naturally in the body but only in low levels. They are present in high levels in animal products that have been heated, like grilled or broiled meats.

The scientists found mice that consumed heated meats had higher levels of AGEs in their bodies. Among other effects, the mice showed suppressed levels of a protein that protects against Alheimer’s as well as a metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic state.

The studies suggest that reducing the intake of AGEs could help open “new therapeutic avenues” for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia and diabetes.

“Our studies of both animals and human subjects confirm that AGE-rich foods are a lifestyle-driven reality with major health implications,” wrote lead researcher Dr. Helen Vlassara.  “The findings point to an easily achievable goal that could reduce the risk of these conditions through the consumption of non-AGE-rich foods, for example, foods that cooked or processed under lower heat levels and in the presence of more water, cooking methods employed for centuries.”

The paper appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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