- Grilling make all the flavors and juices of foods enhanced, making them all the more enticing.
- But grilling, if done the wrong way, can potentially cause cancer.
- The good news is, there are ways to make grilling healthier.
When you think of grilled food, it’s the mouth-watering red meat barbecue that immediately comes to mind, right? However, studies show that red meat is associated with the increased risk of colorectal and other cancers because when it is grilled, the potential cancer-causing compounds come out. Good thing, this risk can be lessened if we practice healthier grilling.
Sheena Patel Swanner RDN, LD, director of nutrition programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research says, “A little bit of preparation, creativity and healthy food choices can really make a big difference in making grilling healthier.”
Here are 9 healthier-grilling tips:
1. Stay clear of charred meat
According to the National Cancer Institute, when meat is well-done and charred, they produce HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that increase the risk of developing cancer as they alter our DNA. Swanner says, HCAs form in the meat while PAHs are found in the smoke and can stick to the surface of the meat.
2. Swap steer for lean meats
Swanner says, “Research shows that diets high in red and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.” Choose lean meats like fish or chicken and avoid red meat like pork, beef, lamb, veal, and oat. Keep meat portions to just three ounces recommends The American Heart Association.
3. Practice frequent flipping
By flipping and pushing the coals on the edges of the grill, Swanner says, “It can prevent smoke from directly hitting the meat.” This decreases the risk of PAH formation.
4. Marinate your meat
According to Swanner, “Studies suggest that marinating meats for about 30 minutes before grilling can decrease the formation of HCAs.” However, avoid fatty concoctions and sugar-laden marinades and use a mixture of lemon juice, vinegar, herbs and spices, and oil.
How does this work? The marinade would act as a protective layer between your meat and the carcinogens.
5. Cut back on grill time
Reduce exposure to carcinogens like the smoke and flames by cutting to small pieces and pre-cooking. Swanner says, “This reduces the time meat is exposed to that smoke and [reducing the chance] PAHs could form.”
6. Avoid processed meats
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified processed meats like hotdogs and sausages as carcinogens. As shown in their research for every additional 50 grams of processed meat (one hot dog or four strips of bacon), you increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
7. Grill veggies or fruit
Swanner says, “Plan your barbecue around grilled vegetables—onions, portobello mushrooms, asparagus and sweet potatoes. Not only do they not produce PAHs and HCAs, they add flavor, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Swanner added, “When you throw fruit on the grill, the natural sugar brings out a sweet, delicious flavor.”
8. Mix lean meats, fruits and veggies
According to Swanner, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a new plate that “focuses on making two-thirds or more of your plate come from plant foods, like those fruits and veggies, then beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. One-third or less should come from animal protein.” A combination of lean meats, fruits, and vegies plus non-grilled dishes like salads makes for a complete meal.
9. Clean the grill
Carcinogens build up on uncleaned grills which increases the risk of transferring them to the food. Clean grills before and after use and Swanner says “reduce flare by preventing juices/marinades from dripping or small veggies from falling in.”
Source: The Healthy