For me, summer is long days with kids playing in the street, sipping ice tea and Barbecues. I do love grilling with friends and family as I’m sure many of you do but cooking meat at high temperatures may leave you at an increased risk of certain cancers.
Cooking meat at high temperatures, 350 degrees and above, create a compound called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when fat drips, flaring up the smoke and fire and resting on the meat. Both compounds are linked with the development of tumor cells.
Don’t worry! I promise…this doesn’t mean you have to get rid of the grill. There’s several ways you can decrease this exposure and still enjoy grilling regularly in a healthy way. Phew!
1. Marinate and use rubs on your meats, specifically those with high antioxidant content. Lemon juice, wine, beer, fresh herbs are types of ingredients that contain antioxidants. Researchers believe these antioxidants block the HCAs from forming up to 96 percent. Plus you get the added benefit of juicy meats with more flavor!
2. Use lower fat cuts of meat like chicken breasts or flank steaks. This is a simple way to decrease the amount of PAHs formed.
3. Turn the temp down slightly…you don’t want to slow cook your food but you can churn out some good meats by cooking them at a lower temperature for a longer time basting as you go.
4. Turn your meat frequently. This helps to decrease the amount of compounds that will form on your food and keeps it from getting burnt at the same time!
5. Remove charred areas of meat before serving.
6. Last but not least…use a smaller amount of meat and grill a feast using fruits and veggies! HCAs and PAHs aren’t formed when grilling fruits and veggies and you get amazing flavor!