Prepared correctly, grilled food is a real treat. In fact, certain grilling techniques not only enhance the flavor of your food but also minimize some barbecuing pitfalls that could jeopardize your health.
Grilling is considered a low fat cooking method. You can watch the fat from meat literally drip off and burn in the hot fire. The result of course is smoke.
Unfortunately, that aromatic smoke contains polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that waft up and collect on the surface of charred food. When eaten PAHs can alter the gentic material of cells. PAHs have induced tumors in experimental settings, although this hasn't been confirmed in human trials.
Another possible cancer risk arises when meat proteins combine with high temperatures to form heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCAs). The longer you cook meat over a high heat source the greater the level of HCAs.
HCAa are known to trigger cellular mutations and have caused tumors in experimental settings. Like PAHs, though, this hasn't been confirmed in human trials.
Reduce your PAHs and HCAs
There's no proof a link exists between human cancers and the cancers caused by PAHs and HCAs in laboratory experiments. But there are plenty of suspicion. With that in mind, here are some ways to reduce your exposure to these substances:
- Reduce the drippings by using fish, lean meats or poultry with the skin removal.
- Use lowfat marinades to minimize fire flare up.
- To reduce flare ups, avoid piercing food. Use tongs (instead of fork) o turn meat.
- Cook food ona perforated sheet of foil to reduce direct smoke exposure.
- Cut lengthy cooking times by partially baking, roasting or microwaving your meat before finishing it on the grill.
- Avoid high cooking temperatures by placing your food on one side of the grill, away from he coal or heat source.
- Remove charred portions from cooked food.
- Skip the meat and try barbecuing fruits and vegetables. You'll avoid PAHs and HCAs because these foods are generally low in fat and don't have the heat-reactive protein found in meat.