Cancer experts offer 5 steps to healthy grilling


Photo: AlexRaths/iStockphoto

Washington – Thinking about firing up the grill this weekend?

Before grabbing those barbecue tongs, follow a few simple food precautions, intended to help people stay healthy, from the American Institute for Cancer Research:

  • Marinate: Studies suggest marinating meat before grilling may reduce the formation of potentially hazardous heterocyclic amines, which may increase the risk of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Scientists hypothesize that the antioxidants in marinades might prohibit the substance known as HCAs from forming.
  • Pre-cook: Before grilling larger cuts of meat, reduce the time your meat is exposed to flames by partially cooking it in a microwave, oven or stove. Immediately place the partially cooked meat on a preheated grill, which helps keep the meat safe from bacteria.
  • Go lean: Trim the fat off meat to help decrease flare-ups and charring. Cook the meat in the center of the grill and regularly flip the food.
  • Mix it up: Cut meat into smaller sizes and add in vegetables to shorten cooking time.
  • Go green: No HCAs are produced when grilling vegetables and fruits. In addition, diets involving more plant-based foods are associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

“What matters most is what you cook, not how you cook it,” Alice Bender, head of nutrition programs at the AICR, said in a press release. “It’s clear that what you eat day to day – focusing on vegetables, whole grains, beans and fruit over red meat – provides the most cancer protection.”

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