Smoke formed from charcoal and food contains known carcinogens. Take a few extra steps while grilling this Memorial Day to minimize the damage of these cancer-causing agents.
The smells of barbecue sauce and sizzling hot dogs signal the beginning of outdoor grilling season. However, many are unaware of the detrimental health effects caused by improper grilling. Cancer-causing agents could be deposited on the meats and other grilled food if the right steps aren't taken to insure proper grilling techniques."High-heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs)," according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center. HCAs are associated with several cancers including breast, colon, stomach and prostate cancers.
When fats and juices from the meat drip down and generate smoke, a cancer-causing chemical called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is formed and deposits onto the food.
Vegetables are a better alternative for the grill because they don't contain as many precursors to carcinogens as meat. Vegetables also take less time to cook, minimizing time to form or be exposed to carcinogens.
Cook with caution by following these safety tips to ensure that your grilling experience will be safe this Memorial Day.
5 Tips For Healthy Grilling:
1. Choose meats that are lean, such as chicken, fish, and beef which are at least 93 percent lean-dark meats over light meat. These choices tend to cause less dripping which produces less smoke.
2. Clean your grill prior to using it. Removing the debris and old "gunk" will help to decrease the smoke.
3. Line the grill with foil and poke small holes in it so the fat can still drip off, but the amount of smoke passing over the meat is reduced.
4. Use marinades, they produce smaller amounts of carcinogenic HCA and PAH when cooked. A study conducted at Kansas State University found an 87 percent decrease in the HCA when using marinades.
5. Precook your foods so they spend less time on the grill, minimizing Memorial Day Grilling Safety Tips For Reducing Carcinogens In Your Food exposure to carcinogens.