Foods, primarily meats and poultry, cooked at high temperatures for too long- especially cooked to the point of charring or burning- are a greater cancer risk because of carcinogens that are formed during the high temperature cooking process. What are grill lovers to do? Here are some healthy grilling tips from nutritionist Kathryn Davis
- Lightly oil your grill before cooking. A little oil can help keep charred material from sticking to the food and helps to keep fish and chicken in one piece.
- Cook at a lower temperature. If you have a charcoal grill, increase the distance between the food and the hot coals by spreading out the coals in a thin layer or by propping the grill rack up higher on bricks. If you are grilling with a gas grill, just lower the settings.
- Stick to charcoal and hardwood- these products burn at a lower temperature than softwood (pine) chips.
- Make sure to clean your grill by scrubbing it thoroughly after every use to avoid a charred buildup. This can be transferred to your food the next time you grill and increase the amount of carcinogens.
- Try spreading aluminum foil on the grill. This can help reduce flare-ups and prevent your food from sticking to the grill. Make sure to make small holes in the foil to allow fat to drain.
- Marinate your meats! Marinating can infuse your meat with flavor making it taste better while making it safer. Marinades can draw out chemical precursors of carcinogens.
- Precook your meat and poultry in the microwave or oven. The higher the temperature at which food cooks and the longer it stays on the grill, the more carcinogens develop. If you partially cook meat or poultry indoors for two to five minutes, it will not have to stay on the grill for as long- making it safer to eat.
- Enjoy plant-based foods on the grill- asparagus, zucchini, onions, potatoes, and pineapple are excellent grilled. Try coating them lightly with olive oil to keep them from sticking.
- If you are grilling meat, Flip it frequently. This can reduce the amount of carcinogens that arise.
- Try grilling fish instead or beef or chicken. Fish contains less fat than meat and poultry, making it less likely to cause flare-ups caused by dripping fat- this can reduce the chances of your fish getting charred or burnt, and therefore reduce the amount of carcinogens produces. Fish also requires less time on the grill, reducing its exposure to carcinogens.
Enjoy your summer grilling while staying safe and healthy!