As July 4th approaches, the fireworks are out and grilling season is upon us! Follow these simple and healthy grilling tips to cook up delicious, nutritious food that will send your family, friends, and neighbors running…
Cooking meat at high temperatures while grilling, boiling, and frying over an open flame creates 2 cancer-causing substances such as “heterocyclic amines” (HCAs) and “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” (PAHs). HCAs are also found in cigarette smoke and have been shown to cause stomach, colon, liver and skin cancer. PAHs are formed when juices from meat drip onto coals or other hot surfaces and create smoke; the carcinogens are deposited onto the surface of meat as the smoke swirls around the food. There are ways to minimize exposure to carcinogens when grilling by precooking food slightly before grilling to reduce cooking time, marinating the meat, and eating sensible serving sizes. Additionally, grilling fruit and vegetables instead of meat DO NOT create carcinogens when they char. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in plants which reduce inflammation and oxidative damage that spark cancer growth. Therefore, make sure to include fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors to increase the carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals to inhibit cancer cell growth and aid in immunity.
Top Grilling Tips for Healthy Eating
- Marinate your meat
The marinade may create a protective barrier between the meat’s proteins and the heat of the grill or the antioxidants in the marinade may combat the carcinogens head-on.
- Keep your grill clean
Scrubbing keeps the buildup of carcinogens left on the grill grates to a minimum and makes your food taste so much better.
- Shorter cook time = better
The faster foods are cooked, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Size matters when it comes to grilling meat. Cube or slice meat into smaller portions to speed up the cook time or choose a quick-cooking option like shrimp or fish.
- Go beyond the meat
Try adding in vegetables and fruits such as peaches, asparagus, apples, pineapple, corn, peppers, or cabbage.
- Be sensible about serving sizes
Appropriate serving sizes:
- 1/4 pound burgers
- Filet mignon-sized steaks
- Kabobs made with small pieces of meat, alternated with vegetables
- Link sausage, cut lengthwise in half instead of grilled whole