Summer is here and the grilling season is officially upon us. Many of us will be enjoying fun BBQ parties with friends and family all summer long. Before you fire up the grill and enjoy those yummy burgers, hot dogs and steaks, check out these tips to help make your grilling experience a little healthier.
Marinate – Heterocuclic amines (HCAs) are substances that form when a chemical found in muscle called creatine reacts with amino acids which are the building blocks of protein during high heat grilling and pan frying. Research shows that these compounds increase the risk of certain cancers such as stomach cancer.
Marinated meats produce less of these substances. Lemon and vinegar based marinades work well because the acidity prevents HCAs from adhering to the meat. Marinating with fresh or dried herbs such as rosemary, oregano, sage or thyme lowers risk of the cancer causing compounds by up to 90%. Are you a beer drinker? Crack open a bottle, marinating meat in beer can slash the risk by 88%.
Don’t Overcook Your Food – You can also help counteract the adverse effects of HCAs by not over cooking the meat, frequently turning meat on the grill, cooking at lower temperatures and using smaller cuts of meat.
Be Very Careful With Raw Meat – Keep food in the refrigerator right up until the time you’re ready to throw it on the grill. Handle raw meats properly, cross contamination is the leading cause of food poisoning. Use different cutting boards for meats and veggies and wash your hands and utensils regularly. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove pathogens.
Don’t Leave Perishable Foods Out For too Long – When left out, food can begin to develop harmful bacteria after only 2 hours. Various bacteria can cause food poisoning so put all perishable foods back in the frig within that time frame.
Choose Grass-fed Beef – It has more omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. It’s also lower in fat and calories. It has more nutrients. Studies show that grass-fed meat is 2 to 3 times higher in the cancer-fighting fat CLA, has 60% more omega-3s and 200% more vitamin E. Organic chicken has 28% more omega-3 fatty acids.
Organic is the healthiest option. Be sure to use a food thermometer when ever you cook so you can check your meat to make sure your food is cooked to the proper temperatures. Happy grillin