Cooking meat, poultry or fish at high temperatures when grilling (broiling or frying too) creates chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs are carcinogenic. These carcinogens may increase the risk of certain cancers.
Fat dripping onto hot coals, stones or burners creates additional cancer-causing chemicals called plycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Once formed, they are deposited back on food by smoke and flare-ups. The more intense the heat, the more PAHs are present.
Don't sell the BBQ, But make it Healthier!
As we head towards our first long week-end of our Canadian grilling season here are some tips to help you minimize the formation of harmful HCAs and PAHs.
· TRIM: Trim excess fat before cooking.
· SMALL SIZE: Keep portion sizes small to cut down on grilling time. Make kebabs as meat cooks more quickly than whole steaks.
· PARTIAL COOK: For meats that require longer cooking times partially cook in the microwave first, drain the juices, and then finish on the barbecue. This can reduce HCAs by 90%.
· MARINATE: Even briefly marinating foods before grilling can reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 99%. Marinate foods in anti-oxidant containing ingredients like rosemary, citrus fruits or green tea.
· DON’T BURN THE FAT: If you are going to brush food with oil use one with a high-smoke point like avocado or coconut oil.
· LESS HEAT: Cooking at lower temperatures will decrease the formation of HCAs. Do not expose meat to a direct flame.
· FREQUENT FLIPS: For burgers reduce carcinogens by cooking at a lower temperature and flipping them every minute while cooking. This can reduce carcinogens by 75 – 95%.
· CATCH THE DRIPS: To reduce smoke and flare-ups avoid letting juices drip into the flames or coals. Use tongs or a spatula to turn foods rather than piercing meat with a fork.
· TRIM THE BURNT PART; Remove charred and burned portions before eating.
Good news -- no harmful chemicals are formed when grilling vegetables so load up and enjoy. LOAD UP ON ANTI-OXIDANT RICH VEGETABLES.