Grilling is a great way to cook food without adding extra fat, but it’s the blackened or charred bits that are the problem: they contain two types of chemical compounds that have been linked to cancer. On June 24, health news website MyHealthNewsDaily reported on what you need to know before firing up the grill.
MyHealthNewsDaily reports that when proteins cook at high temperatures — as they do in broiling and frying, as well as grilling — heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form, particularly in the charred bits at the edges of meat. When meat juices drip onto charcoal or hot surfaces and create smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form. The smoke then swirls around the food and its carcinogens stick to your grilling burger.
First tip, don’t let your grill get too smoky. Here are some other grillmaster techniques to keep in mind:
. To limit the amount of time your food spends on the grill, don’t grill frozen meat. Depending on thickness, you can opt to precook it in the microwave.
. Trim the fat on steak and choose lean meats when possible to reduce smoke from dripping fats.
. Marinate meats in sauces containing vinegar or lemon juice, which protect their surfaces from circulating carcinogens.
. Know when to flip your burger — flipping regularly can help cut down dripping juices.
. Grill kabobs or other small pieces of meat to reduce grill time.
. Set the grilling rack at least 15 centimeters/six inches away from the coals.
Fish and chicken are healthier choices over red meats, according to experts, and vegetables are ideal for grilling because they don’t create HCAs.
Also, keep your meat cool in a refrigerator or cooler right up until grilling time, and be mindful of cross-contamination between raw meat and other foods. For instance, don’t reuse containers or utensils between raw and cooked meats.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.