Posted on by Paula Gallagher
With the long weekend approaching and warmer weather here, people start firing up their barbecues. Grilling is a very common cooking method, especially in the spring and summer. But there are some concerns that come with barbecuing.
So, is barbecuing bad for you? The answer is yes, it can be, but don't cancel your BBQ plans just yet. Research has identified two carcinogenic by-products associated with barbecuing red meat, poultry, lamb, pork and fish. The two carcinogens to be aware of are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are formed from high temperatures – overcooking or char-grilling meat. Studies have shown that this compound can cause cancer in mice. And, PAHs are formed when fat drips onto the coal or hot surface. The smoke carries the PAHs to the food. They can also form directly on the food when it is charred.
With this in mind, here are some ways of making your barbecued foods safer.
Tips for Safer Grilling
1. Don't let the flame get too high
Keep the heat down on the grill and flip food frequently to prevent overcooking on one side.
2. Grill thinner meat
Buy thinner cuts of meat so that they don't take as long to cook.
3. Trim the fat
Buy leaner cuts of meat and cut as much fat off of the meat as possible. Also, flip your food instead of stabbing it with a fork to avoid the fat dripping onto the grill.
4. Marinate, mix, rub
Research has shown the ingredients (especially vinegar) in marinades, as well as olive oil, lemon juice, and antioxidant herbs/spices (garlic, oregano, sage, turmeric, rosemary) can actually protect meat and reduce the chances of carcinogenic compounds forming. One study found that a beef steak marinated with teriyaki sauce had a 45% and 67% lower HCA level at 10 minutes than the unmarinated steak.
5. Add Fruits
Cherries, plums and apples have been shown to reduce HCA production.
6. Keep your grill clean
Reduce oil and grease build-up by regularly scrubbing your grill after each use.
7. Change your clothes
A study suggests that harmful cancer-causing chemicals can get under a person's skin. In addition to fat dripping onto the coals or hot surface of the grill, PAHs can be produced through the burning of organic substances, such as wood, coal or gasoline. Researchers suggest wearing long sleeve shirts and pants would be best, and then changing immediately following to limit the amount of PAHs in contact with your skin. Note that the concern is more for those who barbecue often.
Serve up a delicious tasting antioxidant-rich beverage, such as Pathway Berry Fusion at your next cookout. Mixed into chilled water, Pathway Berry Fusion provides a nutritious blend of a berries, super fruits, grape seed extract and green tea, as well digestive enzymes. It is full of fresh fruit flavor, powerful antioxidants, and has no added sugar.
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