Many of us will be enjoying our grills this summer season, whether your food of choice be meat or veggies. No one wants salmonella from uncooked meat, poultry, or seafood, but let’s also make sure we aren’t ingesting toxins from overcooked, burnt food or inhaling carcinogenic smoke either.
The American Cancer Society notes that cooking meat at high temperatures can create chemicals that may increase your cancer risk. In fact, one study linked regular consumption of charred, well-done meat with a 60 percent increase in pancreatic cancer (University of Minnesota). Did you know the smoke from our grills contains toxic chemicals that we inhale when we’re standing over our grills? Not fun news to hear, especially given that roughly 80 percent of all U.S. households grill at least 1-2 times each week during the summer. Good news! Veggies don’t contain any carcinogens even when charred, so grill all the veggies you want!
The Burning Question (no pun intended!)
Are there ways to enjoy grilling meat in a more healthy way? The answer is YES!
See our top 15 easy tips:
- Choose leaner cuts of meat and trim fat to reduce
fat drippings that cause smoke and potential carcinogens.
Use thick marinades and rubs containing rosemary, thyme, pepper to enhance flavor AND reduce the creation of carcinogens by up to 96% by reducing dripping fat. Marinades act as barriers between meat and toxins.
- Precook your meat on a low setting either in a skillet or your oven before putting on the grill. This reduces some of the fat drippings and smoke.
- Use some aluminum foil as a protective barrier under your meat and poke a few small holes in it. This reduces drippings and keeps smoke away from your meat.
- Remove charred parts of meat before eating.
Try to cook fish more often as it cooks much quicker than meat reducing exposure to smoke and flames.
- Keep your grill clean which can keeps charred residue from affecting your next batch of food.
- Cook with less intense heat and lower temperatures with all cooking methods.
- Use hardwood chips from hickory and maple which burn cooler than softwoods like pine and fir.
- Use charcoal (all natural, if you can find them) briquettes, which burn at lower temperatures.
- Oil your grill (with olive oil) to keep food from sticking.
Don’t cook directly over coals, move them to the side.
- Keep the grill rack farther away from the food rather then right on top of the coals.
- Avoid having flames come in contact with the food.
- Remove food from the grill as soon as it is cooked.
And, a bonus tip: Consider using a “chimney” to start your coals, rather than petroleum-based lighter fluid.
Barbeques draw family and friends together, especially during the summer season.
There’s always a great spread of wonderful food to enjoy! With a little mindfulness to the above terrific suggestions, we can all continue to enjoy throwing our favorite foods on our grills AND stay healthy!
Happy, Healthy Grilling Everyone!
Huffington Post – Dr. Nalini Chilkov
Reader’s Digest – Alyssa Jung
The Daily Details
The Oz Blog – Dr. William W. Li
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