Barbequing and Cancer, What’s the Connection?
With these tips in mind we can have a
healthy and delicious BBQ season!
by Jenn Gashinski, RD
BBQ season is in full swing and we can all agree this is one summer pass time we look forward to. It’s a great way to add flavour, reduce saturated fat and help keep the kitchen cool.
However, you may have heard there are some risks involved when we BBQ animal proteins, which most commonly means meat such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish. When grilling these foods at high temperatures, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed. These compounds are known carcinogens – meaning they change our DNA, increasing the risk of cancer. PAHs come from the smoke in the BBQ and HCAs are those blackened bits on protein.
This does not mean we have to stop grilling! The good news is that there are steps we can take to decrease the formation of these compounds.
Five healthy grilling tips…
- Choose lean proteins with less fat, such as loin cuts. Trim all visible fat off meat and take the skin off poultry. This helps to reduce the drippings into the open flame creating smoke.
- Decrease the amount of time food spends on the grill using smaller portion sizes such as kebabs. Also try to pre-cook larger cuts of animal protein in the oven, slow cooker or microwave first, then add to the BBQ at the end.
- Marinate your protein first, it’s great way to add flavour and tenderize, and can also reduce the amount of PAHs formed in your meat.
- Use tongs rather than a fork to turn the meat. This can reduce flare ups caused by piercing the skin which allows juices to run and create more smoke. Have a water bottle handy to reduce flare ups.
- Grill at a lower temperature. If protein does become charred, make sure to cut off the blackened parts.
Keep in mind, this only applies to animal proteins, so add some vegetables and even fruit to the grill to complete your meal.
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