According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the way we cook our foods directly impacts the level of cancer-causing mutagens found in the final product. A 2009 study done by the University of Minnesota showed that a person who prefers well-done meats, particularly those with a char-grilled or burnt “crust” have a 60% greater risk of contracting pancreatic cancer.
“What you eat is even more important than how it’s cooked,” claims Discovery fit & health. Although the website readily admits that a diet containing well-done meats, especially red meats and chicken, increases a person’s cancer risk. Even pan-frying, basically anything that raises the level of smoke and sears the meat, has proven to be problematic.
One of the best ways to reduce risk is marinating. In addition to making your grilled fare even more moist and flavorful, a marinade can greatly reduce the cancer-causing elements. The American Institute for Cancer Research provides some excellent marinade recipes along with grilling tips such as using tongs or a spatula when flipping the meat to avoid any juices running out.
The American Cancer Society recommends selecting only lean meats and vegetables for grilling. Because the smoke emitted from the grilling process is the primary culprit, minimizing the fat will also cut back on the dangerous smoke that creeps back into your grilled grub. In general, it is best to avoid over-cooking or burning your foods and, if possible, cut away or avoid eating any portions that appear overly charred.
Other tips for healthy grilling include:
• Keeping the grill clean to avoid charred remains smoking your fresh meat.
• Placing a sheet of foil with small holes between the meat and the heat source.
• Avoiding processed meats such as hotdogs and sausages.
• Decreasing grill time by sticking to fish or skewers with smaller cuts that cook faster.
While the act of grilling used to be touted as a healthy way to prepare meats due to the fats dripping away and resulting in fewer calories than their often coated or fried counterparts, it’s no longer considered the safest method for consuming some of our summer favorites like steaks and burgers and bratwursts.