Grills Up! Barbecue Meat Grilling Tips for a Cancer Prevention Diet

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Summer barbecue season is upon us and so should your cancer prevention diet, in order to avoid the ill effects of grilling meat.   Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has published healthy grilling tips to avoid cancer.

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Barbecuing meat including burgers, steaks, chicken, fish and ribs at high heat can expose us to 2 types of carcinogenic substances that can raise our cancer risk - heterocyclic amines (HCA's) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's).

If they sound like  an unhealthy mouthful ... they are.  I'll explain.

Carcinogenic HCA's form when proteins in red meat, pork, poultry and fish are heated to extremely high temperatures. HCA's irritate the body and promote cancer.

PAH's are present in the smoke formed when fat and juices from meat drip onto the heat source. When the smoke rises, they embed in the surface of the grilled meat and are cancer causing.

Any effective cancer prevention diet should aim to reduce one's exposure to these two carcinogens, especially when grilling. With a little effort, you can do this easily and enjoy your summer barbecue as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Researchers at Dana Farber explain how to grill safely as part of  a cancer prevention diet.

Healthy Grilling Tips

Prepping the Meat

  • Choose lean cuts and avoid high fat types like ribs and sausage.
  • Trim excess fat and remove skin.
  • Avoid thick marinades without sugars and honeys that can char; use thin marinades including ones with lemon or vinegar, which can create a protective barrier on meat.

Limit Exposure on Grill

  • Thaw meat first to reduce cooking time.
  • Partially precook meat and fish in microwave for 60 to 90 seconds on high in order to reduce cook time.
  •  Discard juice before grilling  to lower chance of flare ups.

Grilling Tips

  • Flip burgers often - once every minute - to prevent burning and charring.
  • Place rack at least six inches from heat source.
  • Prevent juices from spilling and producing smoke by lining grill with aluminum foil with holes in it or by cooking on cedar plank or pizza stone.

Plan Ahead

  • Lean meat create less dripping and smoke.
  • Choose small quick cooking cuts like kebabs to reduce cooking time.
  • Grill Vegetables as they don't contain proteins that form HCA's even if they char.

Press here to watch a video on healthy anti-cancer grilling techniques.

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