Recently, I had someone ask me the following question: “In the summer I really enjoy having friends and family over for cookouts. But, I have heard that barbecuing can be bad for your health. Is this true?”
Great question. The answer is yes, but don’t cancel your BBQ plans just yet. Research has identified two carcinogenic by-products associated with barbecuing red meat, poultry, lamb, pork and fish. The two carcinogens to be aware of are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are formed from high temperatures overcooking or char-grilling meat. Studies have shown that this compound can cause cancer in mice. And, PAHs are formed when fat drips onto the coal or hot surface. The smoke carries the PAHs to the food. They can also form directly on the food when it is charred.
With this in mind, here are ways of making your barbecued foods safer:
· Don’t let the flame get too high: Keep the heat down on the grill and flip food frequently to prevent overcooking on one side. Also, buy thinner cuts of meat so that they don’t take as long to cook.
· Trim the fat: Buy leaner cuts of meat and cut as much fat off of the meat as possible. Also, flip your food instead of stabbing it with a fork to avoid the fat dripping onto the grill.
· Marinate/Mix/Rub: Research has shown the ingredients (especially vinegar) in marinades, as well as olive oil, lemon juice, and antioxidant herbs/spices (garlic, oregano, sage, turmeric, rosemary) can actually protect meat and reduce the chances of carcinogenic compounds forming. One study found that a beef steak marinated with teriyaki sauce had a 45% and 67% lower HCA level at 10 minutes than the unmarinated steak. Fruits too, such as cherries, plums, and apples have been shown to reduce HCA production.
· Keep your grill clean: Reduce oil and grease build-up by regularly scrubbing your grill after each use.
· Supplement: Take antioxidant protective nutrients such as alpha lipoic acid, green tea, NAC, and fruit extracts. These nutrients help to fight the damaging effects of free radicals. Pathway makes a comprehensive antioxidant blend called Antioxidant Formula. This unique supplement combines powerful nutrients in one great formula.