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During almost every summer holiday, you’re probably going to find yourself in front of the grill. Whether you’re cooking or preparing a meal to take to a backyard barbecue, the American Institute for Cancer Research wants you to take something to heart every time you grill. When it comes to eating healthy, what you choose to cook shouldn’t be a priority, but how you cook it.
According to the National Cancer Institute, grilling meat produces chemicals called HCAs and PAHs. HCAs and PAHs cause changes in DNA that may increase your risk of developing cancer.
HCAs are heterocyclic amines and studies show that they are carcinogens. These chemicals form when meat, poultry (including grilled chicken breast), or fish are cooked at high temperatures, such as frying, broiling and barbecuing.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form when fat and juices from meat are grilled directly over a heated surface (or open fire). The juices drip onto the surface or fire, causing flames and smoke. It’s the smoke that contains PAHs. They adhere to the surface of the meat. PAHs can also form during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats.
While the evidence suggesting that compounds produced in meat through the grilling process cause cancer is limited, there are some things you can do to decrease your risk. Here’s what the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends.
Their researchers recommend following these guidelines for healthy grilling:
There are a number of ways to prepare your vegetables on the grill. Trial and error can be a fun way to experiment with new vegetables and figure out what is best for your palate. There’s no denying that food hot off the grill is delicious, but the cancer risk from charred meats is one you don’t have to take.
Plus, vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, which can be hard to maintain if you’re always on the go this summer. With so many barbecues to attend, you can use our guide to developing a healthy diet on a busy schedule. It contains simple steps for healthy eating at home and on the go.