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Is Grilling Bad for Your Health?

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

You probably know that you shouldn’t eat too much fried food since it is bad for your health. However, did you know that grilling can also be bad for your health in some cases? But this doesn’t mean that you should forget about grilling. It simply means that you should do it smarter.

Why Grilling Can Be Bad for Your Health

According to a research published in the Nutrition and Cancer medical journal, cooking methods like grilling can cause certain proteins in the meat to change and turn into compounds like hetrocyclic amines (HCAs). More specifically, these compounds get created when creatine and amino acids react at temperatures over 300 degrees. By consuming food that contains HCAs, you increase your risk of suffering from cancer.

Apart from the harmful hetrocyclic amines, research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food chemistry revealed that compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can also bind to the outside of the meat, which are known to increase the risk of cancer as well.

Another type of toxins that can be formed during the process of grilling are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). They are created when the fat and the protein in meat reach a high temperature and can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How to Grill Healthier

Even though grilling can be bad for you, it doesn’t mean that it should. Keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to grill healthier.

Grilling Fruits and Vegetables

First of all, you can start putting more fruits and vegetables on your grill. It’s always a good idea to consume some veggies and fruits, and using this cooking method to prepare them will surely make them very delicious. It’s worth noting that none of the aforementioned cancer-causing compounds get formed when you grill fresh produce. Some of the best fruits and vegetables that you can grill include mangos, zucchinis, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, pineapples, and onions.

Temperature Control

It’s also important that you control the temperature when you’re cooking meat. In order to do this, you will need to have a good grill that comes with these controls. Some of the best grills on the market today that come with temperature controls are made either by Traeger or Green Mountain Grill. Both brands cook well and are incredibly easy to use.

Avoid Well-Done or Charred Meat

In a study conducted by the University of Minnesota it was concluded that well-done or charred meat significantly increases the risk of pancreatic cancer if you consume it regularly. Keep in mind that this was a huge study that included over 62,000 participants over a nine-year period. It’s recommended that you prepare your food carefully. Make sure to go with lean meats and get rid of the fat before you start grilling. Remember that when fat drips from the meat, the flames flare up, which causes cancer-causing compounds to form.

One of the best ways to avoid charring is to flip your meat frequently at a lower temperature. However, if you don’t manage to avoid it, you can still remove the burned or charred bits before you start eating to lower your intake of carcinogens.

Marinate the Meat

There’s no better way of improving the taste of your meat than by marinating it. On top of that, the marinade will also act as a barrier between your meat and the compounds known for increasing the risk of cancer. However, it’s important that you don’t use marinades that contain a lot of fat. When you’re preparing meat and poultry, it’s important that you marinate at least for a few hours. On the other hand, you shouldn’t let fish and vegetables marinate for more than an hour.

Cut Back on Grill Time

The longer you expose your meat to smoke and flames, the higher the risk harmful compounds will start to form. In order to grill healthier, you should try cooking foods that take less time to prepare. For example, you can grill fish much quicker than beef or chicken. Nevertheless, if you want to prepare beef or chicken, then you should consider making skewered kebobs with cubes of meat. This way, the meat will be cooked faster.

It’s also worth mentioning that you should remove the skin from chicken when you’re grilling it in order to prevent fat from dripping onto an open flame.

Avoid Pressing Meat Down

Whenever you press your meat down onto grill gates, juices will immediately start dripping. This will cause the flames to flare up, which will make PAHs form on the outside of the meat.

Clean Your Grill

Having a clean grill will help you get rid of the carcinogenic residue that forms when you’re preparing your food. It’s recommended that you clean it with a non-wire brush.

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