Summer is synonymous with patios, backyard parties and eating loads of BBQ. While barbequing your meat is a fast, easy and tasty way to prepare lots of lean meats ahead of time it can lead to some nasty health consequences if you aren’t careful.
Consuming char broiled and well done meat has been linked to increasing cancer risk specifically prostate cancer risk by up to 60% says a University of Minnesota study presented this week at the annual American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Denver, Colorado in 2009.
Cooking meat at high temperatures causes chemicals called HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) and PAA’s (polycyclic aromatic hydracarbons) to form. These 2 substances are carcinogens that can cause changes in DNA and lead to cancer.
No need to panic. You don’t need to give up your favorite summertime meals just yet. There are several things you can do to minimize the formation of HCA’s in your meat.
1. Consume flavonoids (phytochemicals in berries, cherries, red grapes, apples, citrus fruit, broccoli, kale, onions and tea). Flavonoids are thought to block the formation of HCAs in meat.
2. Choose leaner meats and trim the fat away before grilling. When fat drips flames that flare create smoke which leads to carcinogen formation. If the meat does char then trim it away before eating.
3. Cut back on grill time. Cooking meat for a long time exposes it to more smoke and flames. Microwave or bake your meat first and then finish it off on the BBQ.
4. Marinate meat for a minimum of 10 minutes before grilling to reduce the formation of HCAs. These may prevent carcinogen formation.
Ingredients in a marinade need to contain at least these 4 ingredients:
a. a sour – vinegar or citrus juice
b. a sweet – maple syrup or coconut sugar
c. an oil – grapeseed oil or olive oil (low temp cooking only)
d. a spice – garlic or oregano
5. Cook at a lower temperature and indirect heat. Turn the gas down or wait for the charcoal to become low-burning embers.
In good health,
Cheryl Wahl, RHN, Fitness Trainer
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