approaching the last big national grill day of the year, I was
reminded recently. Time to break out the barbecue.
And grilled is
good for us, right? Itís better than fried and tastes soo
much better than anything boiled or popped in the microwave.
though, there is a downside. According to the National Cancer
Institute, when beef, pork, fish or poultry are cooked at high
temperatures ó such as pan frying or over an open flame ó
chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed. Experiments in
laboratories have found that these substances may increase
oneís risk for cancer.
temperatures, these bad boys are especially prevalent when fat
and juice from meat drip into the fire, causing flames and
smoke, say researchers. Itís the smoke that contains PAHs
that then stick to the surface of the meat. We get exposed to
PAHs from car exhaust and cigarette smoke as well.
out the grill just yet, though. There are some strategies that
significantly reduce the formation of HCAs and PAHs.
Donít cook it
to death. Meat, poultry or fish that remain at high temps for
a long time are most susceptible to the build-up of these
substances. One method recommended is to cook the food in a
microwave and finish it off on the hot grill, say some
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research,
soaking your meat, fish or poultry for at least 30 minutes
before grilling in a marinade that contains acidic ingredients
such as lemon juice or vinegar can reduce the formation of
HCAs by more than 90 percent.
heat, not fire. That way dripping grease doesnít cause a
flare-up which releases dangerous chemicals back into the
meat. Electric grills like the George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor
grill work well without breaking the bank. These types of
products let you lower your grilling temperature and are set
up to let fat run into a trap away from the food. And hey, if
it rains on your backyard party, you can still safely grill
indoors, no worries.
vegetables. Because they are low in protein, they do not form
HCA. And remember that colorful vegetables contain natural
chemicals that help reduce the risk for cancer.
portions of meat. Kabobs, for example, that mix small amounts
of meat with vegetables, cook faster and therefore spend less
time cooking at high temps.
indulging in charred portions of meat. Yes, I know, some of us
consider this the tastiest part. Yet experts say avoiding
charred meat and poultry can reduce our exposure to HCAs and
frequently. This suggestion will go over like a lead balloon
to steak aficionados. Yet researchers report that flipping
meat often helps reduce the formation of HCAs.