There are many signs of summer: camping, mosquitoes, road trips, and of course BBQ. If you’re like most people you’ve already cooked more than a few meals on the grill this summer. While BBQing can be a very healthy way to eat, there have also been concerns about it contributing to health concerns like cancer. Here are the answers to the most common BBQ-related questions I’m asked:
One of the biggest concerns about BBQing is the possible link between BBQed food and cancer. Is there a real risk?
There is a link between BBQed foods and the risk of cancer. Basically, when foods like meat are heated over high temperatures or come in contact with flames, certain compounds can form. These compounds are called: Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). These compounds are known carcinogens. But, you don’t need to remember their names to lessen your risk of exposure to them.
How can we enjoy grilled food and still reduce our exposure to these cancer-causing agents?
Well, there are actually a few easy things that you can do to reduce your exposure to these compounds.
Choose foods that are low in fat like lean cuts of meat, poultry or fish. Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are primarily formed when fats are heated to high temperatures or fall into the flames and create smoke. By choosing lean cuts of meat and of course vegetables which are naturally low in fat, you reduce the chance of these compounds forming at all.
You should also trim excess fat from meat prior to cooking it.
Next: Vegetables, marinades, and the connection with free radicals