For years there has been a controversy whether grilled meats cause cancer . A few research studies have found that grilling and broiling cause meats (red meat, poultry and fish included ) to produce cancer-causing compounds. These compounds known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines), have been shown to cause tumors in animals and possibly increase the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, stomach and prostate in humans. This was confirmed officially by The National Institute of Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services in January 2005 when it added heterocyclic amines in it’s hit list of cancer causing agents.
Does this mean grilling is a big no ? Not always. Large doses of meat especially red meat has never been recommended by doctors. According to most researchers, grilled vegetables and fruits, burnt toast and dishes in which only the seasoning is charred present a substantially lower risk of cancer.You can still eat meat but make sure to eat it in moderation.
Below are 5 tips you can implement right away to make your grilling safer and free from cancer causing agents.
Make Grilling Safer
1. A good idea is to grill vegetables instead of meat always. Try grilling marinated vegetables on skewers, a grilling tray or wrapped in foil. Other healthy barbecue choices are veggie burgers, tofu or quesadillas and even tortillas.
2. Marinating meats before grilling may significantly reduce the amount of HCAs. . A marinade is usually acidic and always flavorful. The Acids in marinades do not tenderize meat. However some store bought marinades will tenderize meat because they contain enzymes.
Scrape the burned bits
3. One of the most important tips is to clean your grill thoroughly. Scrape the burned bits off the grates using a grill brush or even a paint scraper. The residue left on the grill often contains high does of HCA’s.
4. PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are cacogenic substances which are formed when fat from meats comes in contact with coal and other hot objects. These chemicals are deposited on your food during flare ups and during evaporation. Avoid letting juices drip into the flames or coals, which causes smoke and flare-ups. Use tongs or a spatula to turn foods, instead of piercing meat with a fork. Covering the grill with punctured aluminum foil, not placing meats directly over coals and keeping a spray bottle of water on hand (to control flare-ups) are other ways to reduce drips.
5. Flip frequently. Recent research has found that cooking hamburger patties at a lower Temperature and turning them often accelerates the cooking process, helps prevent the formation of HCAs and is equally effective in killing bacteria.