With Memorial Day weekend behind us, we're ready to unofficially kick off the summer grilling season. And while grilling is a healthy way to add flavor to traditional meats, fish and vegetables, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) advises that what you’re cooking, and how it’s prepared, can make a huge difference when it comes to health.
The following “Cancer-free Grilling Tips” are provided by Amanda Agamy, a licesnsed and registered dietitian from the CTCA.
These tips are designed to provide insight into how some of the foods we grill could actually increase a person’s risk of cancer.
Avoid Processed Meats:
- What to avoid: Hot dogs, sausage, prepared hamburgers, bacon, ham, pastrami, salami and pepperoni.
- Alternatives: Fish, skinless/boneless chicken, lean cuts of meat, make your own turkey burgers (be careful to use white ground turkey breast versus the dark meat), half ground beef/half turkey burgers and grilled vegetables.
- Risk factors from processed meat: Colorectal cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure.
- Portion size: In an ideal world processed meats would be eliminated. But since that’s not realistic, the goal is to eat these foods as sparingly as possible. Be sure to keep meat servings to no more than 3-4 oz per meal. To really reduce your risks for cancer-causing compounds, increase the fruits and veggies that are grilled. These healthy alternatives provide phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer.
Limit Red Meats:
- What is considered red meat: Pork, lamb and beef. Note that certain cuts of beef, pork and lamb are high in fat so you want to be careful what kinds you are choosing and with how much you eat.
- Great alternatives are skinless/boneless chicken breasts, fish, and veggies.
- Risks associated with too much red meat: colorectal & prostate cancers, heart disease.
- Portion size: Limit yourself to <18oz of red meat a week.
Don’t Char or Burn Foods:
Charred or burnt food is covered with heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – which can potentially damage your DNA, possibly increasing your risk for certain cancers, such as stomach and colorectal.
- Pre-cook food: Microwave or bake for a few minutes before putting food on the grill to lower the amount of time it needs to be on the grill.
- Lower temperature: Allows food to cook evenly without charring or burning outside.
- Use a marinade: This helps keep HCAs off foods. A healthy marinade option could be made from healthy bases of vinegar and citrus with vegetables, as well as low fat/fat free options.
- Trim the fat: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in smoke when fat drippings hit the flame causing them to build up on the meat. The less fat on the meat when on the grill the better.
Also, be sure to scrub the grill. Good clean up prevents harmful chemicals from building up on your grill and transferring to your food at the next barbeque.
For more information, visit http://www.cancercenter.com/.