Before you light your grill for your backyard barbeque this summer, consider this. Grilling meats, especially high-fat meats, produces a number of cancer-causing compounds, known as carcinogens, which may increase the risk of stomach, colon, pancreatic, and breast 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 barbeque.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
Carcinogens that are formed when fat drips from meat and flares-up, producing smoke that coats the foods being grilled. Decrease the amount of smoke produced by flare-ups with the tips below.
· Choose lean cuts of meat such as “loin” cuts of beef & pork, skinless poultry, fish, & tofu
· Trim excess fat around the edges of meat & remove the skin
· Flip meat with tongs or a spatula rather than piercing with a fork, which allows fat to escape & drip
· Keep your grill clean to prevent flare-ups
· Use a marinade or BBQ sauce as these reduce carcinogens by >90%
Heterocyclic Amines (HCA)
Carcinogens that are formed when muscle meats are cooked at very high temperatures (grilling, frying, broiling). Decrease the amount of HCAs formed with the tips below.
· Avoid charred meats
· Eat “well-done” meat sparingly
· Lower heat & cook longer
· Precook meats at a low temperature first. Microwaving meats for 2 minutes before grilling can reduce HCAs by 90%
Julie Holbrook, MS, RD, LDN
Rosemary Balsamic Marinade
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
½ tsp black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Into plastic bag, add marinade, meats, veggies, etc and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Shake occasionally.
Per 1 Tbsp: 25 calories; 1 gm fat (0.1 gm saturated fat); 3 mg sodium
*Recipe from WebMD Dietitian Elaine Magee, MPH, RD