As you fire up your barbecue grill for the Fourth of July, Labor Day, or other fun weekend get-togethers this summer, it is important to know a few tips to protect you and your friends and family from the potentially dangerous chemicals that grilling your meat can create.
Grilling, frying, broiling, (and other cooking methods that expose meat to extremely high temperatures), “creates potential cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
This is especially true when the meat is charred or overcooked. Moreover, when fat drips on the heat source, the plumes of smoke can coat meat with other dangerous chemicals.
The worst offenders are fatty, well-done beef, pork and lamb, but even poultry and fish produce HCAs when seared.”(1)
If you love grilling, here are a few ways to reduce the dangers:
• Buy lean types of meat and trim off all visible fat.
• “Marinate meat. Researchers have found that this can decrease HCAs by more than 90 percent. Use combinations of beer, cider, vinegar, citrus juices, mustard, herbs, and brown sugar.”(2)
• Precook meat in an oven, and then finish on the grill.
•Try using a lower heat. Don’t put the meat right over the fire. Put the meat to the side of the grill where the heat isn’t as hot.
• Turn the meat more frequently, and grill the meat just until it is cooked and safe to eat. Don’t cook it until it is charred. You can use a meat thermometer to check and make sure it is done.
• Avoid breathing in smoke, which also has risks.
• Veggie burgers, seitan (a protein-rich food made of wheat gluten, used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes), Portobello mushrooms and vegetables have little or no formation of HCA’s when grilled.
Try going vegetarian once in a while!
It tastes good, and is good for you!
Sources 1 & 2 Berkeley Wellness Alert University of California – 5/24/2011
By Nancy Addison CHC, AADP
For more recipes or nutrition information you may like Nancy’s award-winning cookbooks, that include health and nutrition information. You can see them on her website: www.organichealthylife.com
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