Recommendations for Healthy Grilling

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Barbeque grillingHealthy grilling is not just a craze among health-conscious Canadians; it is a practice that can help your body fend from diseases such as; cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other potential killers. Follow these guidelines to keep your family healthy:

  • Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that people who regularly consume well-done grilled meat are 60 per cent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer (Viksnins Snowden, 2009). The American Institute for Cancer Research also warns that charring meat, poultry and fish under high heat produces chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can damage our DNA in ways that increase the likelihood of developing cancer (American Institute for Cancer Research, 2013). 

  • Prevent flare-ups, since that chars your food. Cut off the fat, since that smokes and burns first. 

  • Keep the grilling time and temperature to the minimum. This is certainly easier said than done, since logic suggests that grilling time increases if temperature is reduced and vice versa. However, The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that you microwave the meat first until it is partially cooked, and only then put it on the grill. Fish and chicken cook faster than red meat, so substituting these for some or all of the red meat helps. Smaller thinner pieces of meat on skewers also require a lot less grilling.

  • Flip the meat regularly and move it around the grill. This prevents any single area of the meat from burning. 

  • Interestingly, studies show that marinating meats reduces the production of the harmful chemicals, especially when the marinade contains a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice or wine with herbs and spices (Colihan, 2008). It tastes better too.

  • While it is unrealistic to demand that meat-eaters grill only vegetables, the harmful chemicals are not produced when vegetables are grilled. Vary your grill and give your family a mix of meats and vegetables to minimise exposure.

  • The American Heart Association warns that you should choose your food carefully for cardiovascular health. Salmon, trout and herring are some of the healthiest fish to grill, and you can easily make tasty sauces to serve with them. They recommend grilling chicken breasts rather than legs and thighs, because those contain more fat. They also advise that loin and round cuts of red meat are the least unhealthy.

Use these tips to keep your grilling healthy this summer!