9 Ways to Cancer-Proof Your Next Barbecue

There is a link between barbecued foods and an increased risk of cancer. Basically, when foods like meat or oils 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. Here are some simple ways to lessen your cancer risk and still enjoy your next barbecue.

1. Choose foods that are low in fat like vegetables, 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.

2. Trim excess fat from meat prior to cooking it.

3. Pay attention while you’re barbecuing. This helps to lessen the likelihood of flare-ups, intense smoking, and charring, thereby resulting in healthier meals.

4. Avoid charring food excessively and, of course, avoid eating burnt parts of food as much as possible.

Keep reading to discover the marinades that reduce cancer-causing compounds by up to 99 percent…

5. Marinate foods like meat in olive oil and lemon juice-based marinades. Research shows that these two items can reduce the formation of the cancer-causing compounds by up to 99 percent while cooking. Not to mention that they tenderize the meat, add great flavor, and help keep it moist during cooking.

6. Use fresh herbs for your next barbecue. Scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs in a particular family used in marinades drastically reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines. These herbs include: basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. Simply use one or more of these herbs, preferably fresh, in a marinade prior to and during cooking. Fortunately, they add tremendous flavor so most people won’t even know you’re making they’re barbecued food healthier.

7. One of the easiest ways to make barbecuing healthier is to add as many vegetables as possible. Making kebabs is a great way to do this. By alternating lean meat and vegetables, the veggies will not only add flavor, they’ll also help to keep the meat moist and add fiber and nutrients.

8. Avoid overcooking vegetables. Their natural antioxidants help destroy free radicals that may be caused from barbecuing. The longer they cook the more certain vitamins like vitamin C and B-complex vitamins break down. So don’t overcook them.

9. Keep your grill clean prior to every use. Not only is it more appetizing to eat food that’s been cooked on a clean grill, but you’ll be lessening the amount of char that you’ll be eating.

Adapted from the book Cancer-Proof by Michelle Schoffro Cook. Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

10 Foods That Increase Cancer Risk
5 Marinades for Grilled Vegetables
6 Surprising Things You Can Grill


Nimue Pendragon

We don't barbeque :)

Nimue Pendragon

We don't barbeque :)

Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Clara Hamill
Clara Hamill5 years ago

I will not stop eating bbq but thanks for the tips anyway. No I will not stop eating meat.

Dale Overall

The BBQ is a delight, be it with portobello mushrooms, bell peppers or a sizzling steak. One just has to practice moderation in all things.

Carol Laronga
Carol Laronga5 years ago

Thanks for the great advice!

Mac C.
mac C5 years ago

Thanks for the advice, will use it.

Sara L.
Sara Leviten5 years ago

Am I correct in assuming, that those tips should go for broiling, since the temperature is very high. The only thing is vegetables would not work in a broiler. I always thought that the most healthful methods of cooking were roasting, broiling, parboiling and stewing. Am I wrong?

Natalie Kulk
Natalie Kulk5 years ago

i didn't know that

Russell R.
Russell R5 years ago

Your not cooking a Great Steak or Hamburger if it don't flare up! With all of the crap that is in the air we breed, do you really think that I am going to start worrying about that! When I think of all those charred marshmallows I use to eat and still do, occasionally!