Before you light your grill for your backyard barbecue this summer, consider this. Grilling meats, especially high-fat meats, produces a number of cancer-causing compounds, known as carcinogens, which might increase the risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. This does not mean you need to avoid grilling altogether, rather follow the simple steps below to reduce the amount of carcinogens you consume at your barbecue.
Carcinogens are formed when meats are cooked at very high temperatures and when fat drips on the fire causing flare-ups.
According to the American Cancer Society, here’s how you can decrease the amount of carcinogens you consume:
- Choose lean cuts of meat such as “loin” cuts of beef and pork, skinless poultry and fish
- Trim excess fat around the edges of meat and remove the skin off poultry
- Flip meat with tongs or a spatula rather than piercing with a fork, which allows fat to escape and drip
- Use a marinade or barbecue sauce, as these reduce carcinogens by more than 90%
- Avoid prolonged cooking times leading to charred meats
Other tips for healthy grilling:
- Grill fruit for dessert
- Grill veggies as a side dish: zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant and corn are excellent grilled
- Grill bean or veggie burgers instead of animal meats
- Choose whole grain buns with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving
- Keep meat portions small, such as 3-4 oz or about the size of a deck of cards
For more health tips, make an appointment with a registered dietitian at Centegra Healthy Living Institute. Call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).
Source: Julie Holbrook, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian with Centegra Healthy Living Institute