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Fire Up the Grill, but Hold the Carcinogens

Posted Oct 16 2008 7:58pm

My husband thinks he's the king of grilling with his new Weber charcoal grill. To be honest, he could go toe-to-toe with Bobby Flay. He's that good.

However, he's married to a woman who buys fresh, organic (and whenever possible local) fruits and veggies to cut down on pesticides and other toxins.

So it's not a surprise that I'm concerned about how he barbecues the burgers, steaks and chicken since searing meats at high temperatures can produce cancer-causing carcinogens called heterocylic amines ( HCA ), according to the National Cancer Institute.

And to make his charcoal grilling less enticing, the fat from the meat which drips off onto the coals can drift back up in smoke as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a suspected toxin.

Fortunately, following a couple basic tips can make grilling tasty and healthy. First, select lean cuts of meat to minimize PAHs, and then marinate them with a combination of vinegar, olive oil, herbs and spices to reduce the HCAs by 92 to 99 percent.

Additionally, you can also briefly pre -cook your meat in a microwave so it spends less time over the flames, use a gas grill instead of charcoal, and flip your meat often over lower temperatures.

To be honest, the last three tips don't go over well with true barbecue connoisseurs. According to my husband, that just isn't real barbecuing. However, choosing lean meats and marinating them can substantially make grilling healthier and are both chef and wife approved.

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