Healthy Action Step of the Day: Grill Carefully for Health

Grill carefully for health. Grilling is a natural part of summer, but there are some health impacts that you need to keep in mind. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, (AICR) “grilling meat, red or white, at high temperatures forms potent cancer-causing substances.” That’s because charring and cooking meat, poultry and fish under high heat causes compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. These substances have shown the ability to damage our DNA in ways that make cancer more likely.But there are some steps the AICR recommends that you can take to make grilling healthier.

  • Marinate your meat. Research has shown that marinating meat for at least 30 minutes can reduce the formation of HCAs.
  • Partially pre-cook your meat. PAHs are deposited onto the meat by smoke. By reducing the amount of time meat spends exposed to flame by first partially cooking it in a microwave, oven or stove, you can reduce the amount of PAHs you generate and ingest.
  • Cook meat over a low flame. Doing this can reduce the formation of both HCAs and PAHs, and help keep burning and charring to a minimum.
  • ** My recommendation: Use a gas grill instead of charcoal. Charcoal-grilled meats contain more PAHs than meat heated with propane.

Bottom line: Enjoy an occasional chargrilled burger this summer, but don’t make it a habit, and follow these tips to keep all of your grilling as healthy as possible.