Safe Grilling Tips To Reduce Carcinogens

Safe Grilling Tips To Reduce Carcinogens

kebab3 Summer is here and that means Grill Season! I love grill season because it means I get to just fix the stuff while the actual cooking/grilling is done by my husband. We grill indoors in the winter,  but there is something magical about the smell of fresh grilled corn or meat that indoor grilling cannot mimic. While grilling can be called a healthy technique adapted by our ancestors (The Paleo folk) improper grilling methods can be hazardous to health! Does this mean I give up the sizzling steaks and roasted corn ?  No way! Not in my home!! But incorporating some safe rules can safeguard you and your family from exposure to excess carcinogens and help you enjoy grilled foods that are flavorful and tasty! Be safe by following these safe grilling tips! What happens when food is grilled at high temperatures ? High heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat, poultry and fish into Heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) which are associated with several cancers including colon, breast and stomach cancer. By the way, even charring vegetables on the grill creates different carcinogens such as acrylamides, so don’t think that the negative effect of charring only applies to meats. marinate collage Safe Grilling Tips!

  1. Counteract the effect of HCA’s by loading up on spice : Marinating meats for hours beforehand in liquid mixtures that contain herbs/spices can dramatically help to reduce HCA’s (heterocyclic amines).  Dousing the meat in meat marinade before grilling meats can drastically reduce any carcinogens that normally would form on grilled meat. The antioxidants in rosemary and thyme from a marinade were specifically cited in studies at being powerful inhibitors of HCA formation when grilling meats. But it was also noted that other spices such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and others can help to prevent HCA formation as well, so use a variety and slather on the marinade! Added bonus : marinated meat tastes better and cooks faster.
  2. Use lean meats : When fat from the meats drip down into the coals or fire they generate a cancer causing smoke called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) which get deposited on food. This is minimized when you use leaner cuts of meat.
  3. Don’t overcook : The more well-done a meat is cooked, the higher concentration of carcinogenic HCA’s can form, so rare, medium-rare, or medium are healthier choices than well-done. If your’e not too fond of rare, use a meat thermometer and stop cooking when it shows the right temperature. The use of marinades and meat tenderizers can help to prevent over cooking.Cutting meats into smaller pieces shortens cooking time. Click here for a list of safe cooking temperatures.
  4. Precook :This is especially useful for meats that have bone in them like chicken drumsticks thighs etc. Half cooking the meat in a microwave, stove top or oven and then popping on the grill will greatly minimize formation of HCA’s since less cooking time is required. This will also ensure evenly cooked meats. This is a tip I use when I grill meat (with bone)
  5. Use the grill packet method : Wrapping meats, veggies in a foil packet cooks evenly, seals in flavor and minimizes formation of HCA’s. Using a grill basket does the same and these are a good investment!
  6. Clean grill : Clean grill in between uses. Removing old gunk will reduce smoke, quicken cooking time and reduce HCA formation. Cleaning and scrubbing the grill will also make the food taste better.
  7. Grill fruits and veggies : These will give you a nice dose of fiber and protective antioxidants to balance the meat  and you don’t need to overcook them. I love grilled peaches and grilled pineapple.
  8. grill collage 2Enjoy your grilled foods and be safe !
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18 thoughts on “Safe Grilling Tips To Reduce Carcinogens”

  • I just recently read about the carcinogens found in charred food, especially grilled meat. What a disappointment! Your avoidance tips are a relief, as I love to marinade, use lots of spices in dry rubs, and I, personally like my BBQ moist and not overcooked. We frequently use the foil packs too to cook veggies on the grill. Maybe I’ve been inadvertently avoiding HCA’s all along! Thanks for the great info!

  • This is good info. I love to grill but have been wary with all the hype about HCA’s etc. I love marinades and rare works for me ! I will follow these tips, esp the fruit grilling and the grill pouch method ! Good post Sue ! Thanks for sharing !!

  • This information is so useful. Most people just forget about HCAs when grilling. You’ve educated readers how to reduce the health risk and still enjoy BBQ.
    Amazing grill cleaning tip: Scrub warm-hot grill with balled up aluminum foil using tongs. Gunk peels right off with very little effort.

    • Thanks Kevin. Been meaning to write this post since we do grill a lot and it’s a reminder to me too. That grill cleaning technique sounds awesome & very practical ! Must try it next time we grill which will prolly be tomorrow !

  • These are great tips, Sue! We LOVE barbequing in the summer (although sadly our grill is busted. We need a new one stat!). Anything we can do to reduce risks to our health is welcome. Thanks for sharing!

    • Welcome ! I need to use these tips more myself. Hope you get your new grill soon so you can enjoy all the good stuff on the grill ! Thanks for reading Nancy !

    • So glad you found it useful ! Wonder if you make any grilled desserts ?:) ! I would love some grilled dessert ideas from you ! Thanks for reading Liz !

    • Welcome ! We love BBQ and I am always freaking out about slightly charred meat, but I use a lot of marinade so hopefully that helps! Nothing like BBQ food so I would never give up on it. Just take some precautions ! Thanks for reading!

  • My boyfriend does the grilling while I do the prep and supervising 🙂 Will be studying this for the next grill session – thanks for sharing 🙂

  • These are very helpful tips. Everyone in the family loves grill foods especially now that it is summer. Of course, we have to take safety precautions also because we know the bad effects of eating too much grilled foods.

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