Thursday, June 12, 2014

Firing Up Your Grill This Summer? These 8 tips can help you avoid unhealthy carcinogens.

Most people know that grilling is healthier than frying. But did you know that grilling does not eliminate all health risks?

Two carcinogens, known as Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can form in and on your food as you grill.

Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form in protein-rich foods cooked at very high temperatures. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form as a result of fat dripping off, creating smoke that circulates around the food. This smoke deposits the PAHs onto your food. These compounds are dangerous because studies suggest that they can damage DNA and spark the development of cancerous tumors.

Although these carcinogens are dangerous, that doesn’t mean we should put away our grills just yet- especially with the 4th of July right around the corner!

Here are 8 tips you can use to make sure your grilling efforts remain healthy:

o   HCA’s begin to form at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, so cook your meat at a lower temperature.

o   The shorter the cooking time at high heat, the healthier.

o   Select leaner cuts of meat to decrease the amount of fat that drips off.

o   Scrape off any charred parts of your food.

o   Clean your grill every time before use, to decrease any charred remnants from transferring onto your meal.

o   By covering the grill plates with perforated foil, you could decrease the amount of smoke that reaches your food while still allowing the fat to drip.

o   Avoid piercing the meat, as this allows more fat to drip and smoke to billow.

o   Marinate your meat at least 30 minutes before grilling, as this seems to limit the carcinogen formation by up to 90%. Some spices even offer protection from these formations, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic and red pepper. However, marinades with a lot of sugar can reverse this effect and tend to increase formations.

Go fire up that grill and enjoy a healthy summer!


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