CB064567It’s warmer weather and time to pull out the grill.  If you are like me, you enjoy the ease of preparation, and the taste  of meals from the barbecue.  Food seems to taste better, when cooked, or eaten, outdoors.  But, before we start slinging meat on the grill, there are precautions we need to take when grilling.

I recently learned that high protein foods, like meat, fish, and poultry, when cooked at high temperatures, can contain cancer-causing agents.  These substances are called HCAs (heterocyclic amines).  The charred, blackened portions of the meat have the highest levels of HCAs, so it is best not to overcook these foods. 

When fat begins to drip from the meats, it causes smoke and fire from the coals.  This smoke and fire return PAHs, )polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also carcinogenic. 

There are some things that we can do to minimize these cancer-causing compounds:

  • Be sure to trim away visible fat before placing food on the grill, and remove charred and blackened areas after cooking,
  • Buy lean cuts of meat and use thinner, smaller cuts, turning often to cook faster and more thorougly throughout.
  • Place aluminum foil on rack; piercing it with a fork.
  • Marinating meats can reduce HCA by as much as 90 percent.  Use olive oil, herbs, spices, citrus, or low-fat salad dressings to marinate 10-20 minutes prior to grilling.

Don’t forget about the veggies.  My favorite is to thinly slice potatoes, yellow and zuchinni squash, onions, and green pepper, and put in foil.  Add your favorite spices; I use lemon pepper, and make a tent of the foil.  Cook on grill for approximately 30-40 minutes.

Food tastes cleaner and healthier, when prepared on the grill, and for the most part it is.  Just be sure to wash it thoroughly and apply the tips I just gave you for a magnificent, tasty, meal.

I received a comment from Parker Health Solutions that prompted me to do some research on thawing food in the microwave.  I first had suggested to do that, but since I don’t use the microwave myself for that, and with the additional information provide from Parker Health Solutions, I removed it from this post.  I encourage you to read the information on using a microwave at Parker Health Solutions.

5 thoughts on “Grilled Foods Contain Cancer-Causing Compounds

  1. That’s all I’ve been doing lately is cooking on the grill. It’s easier and yes—the food does taste better to me. I had heard about the cancer causing agents a long time ago—kind of ignored it but your post has made me mindful of it again. Thanks!

  2. This is a very good explanation of how the cancer-causing factors are formed! We use lean meat, and remove the skin from chicken, but marinate it and baste to keep it moist. LOVE grilled vegies!

    Thanks for mentioning me in an earlier post…so want to get another article to you, but may have jury duty next week. Hoping they won’t need me!

    Have a great week!

  3. Hi Dave,
    I know you love to grill and wanted to make sure you grill healthy (not that you don’t already).
    Lots of great info on the internet. Let me know when you get this.
    Mom x

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