In spite of the many happy associations with backyard grilling, it is important to understand that there are some risks to your health associated with this cooking method. With the uptick in cancer cases and cancer deaths, it is not a bad idea to find ways to reduce your chances of getting sick from the foods you eat.
The cancer risk from grilled foods is due to the combination of animal protein and excessive heat that produces certain chemicals that may cause inflammation, damage to DNA and therefore, a higher risk of developing cancer and other diseases. These risks seem to increase as you age, since your body is less able to eliminate these toxins.
Here are some tips for healthier grilling.
Healthy Outdoor Grilling Tips
-Grill at lower temperatures by turning the gas down or by waiting until your charcoal is a bed of hot embers .
-Partially cook the meat on the stove or in the oven, to shorten time on the grill, which produces fewer carcinogens.
-Marinate meat before grilling, particularly with acidic marinades, such as those with lemon juice or vinegar, to decrease cooking time and reduce formation of toxic chemicals.
-Use an elevated rack or cedar plank to move meat farther away from the fire.
-Turn meat often on the grill using a tongs rather than a fork, since poking the meat may cause dripping fat and flare-ups, which can deposit carcinogens onto the meat.
-Use a meat thermometer so you know when meat is thoroughly cooked, but not overcooked, since the longer you cook the meat, the more toxins will form.
-Choose leaner cuts of meat that will drip less and cause less charring, and avoid eating the charred portions of grilled meat as they contain a known carcinogen.
-Grill and eat more vegetables, and fruits, with your meat, since they don’t produce the same toxic chemicals that grilling meat does. As an added bonus, fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals, which help ameliorate the effects of those toxins.
-Keep your grill clean, since residue that is carcinogenic may build up and be deposited on the food.
-Consider limiting grilling to special occasions such as picnics or backyard barbecue parties, rather than making it a regular cooking method.
By incorporating these outdoor cooking tips, you can still make your backyard grilling occasions special, while at the same time protecting the health of your family and friends.