With the official start of summer in the US...Memorial Day, comes the often used BBQ, but there's been much talk over the past couple of years especially, about grilling/BBQing and cancer.
It's something I'm often asked about, especially from the breast cancer survivors I work with who are focusing on staying healthy.
As if often the case...it's not black and white, because there are many variables.
Here's what we know:
1. Studies have shown that people who eat grilled food are at a higher risk of getting different diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
2. Whether it is beef, mutton or chicken, fat is always a part of meat consumption. When meat (combined with fat) is heated, a number of chemical reactions happen, which produce harmful substances that can be factors for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or carcinogens shown to increase risk in adults of pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Before you commit to never grilling again, let's take a look at how you can avoid the production of harmful substances when grilling.
CLEANLINESS IS KEY
Keeping your grill clean and tidy decreases the health risks. Cleaning the grill before and after cooking is the key factor to cooking healthy food without giving an edge to the chemical reactions. You can clean your grill by removing any grease or food left from the last time you cooked using different methods like scrubbing with metal bristles and wiping with a clean cloth.
SOAK THE MEAT IN A MARINADE
Studies have indicated that marinating your meat before grilling can decrease the production of carcinogens by a considerable amount. Different marinating liquids, like lemon, teriyaki, and garlic sauce, can reduce the production of carcinogens completely when used for a longer period of time. So just take a cup full of marinating liquid and soak the meat in it. (Grab your recipe guide below for some yummy and healthy marinades)
CUT THE MEAT INTO THIN PIECES
Always cut your meat into thin pieces and remove the excessive fat. This cuts down grilling time, making grilling easy and reducing the risk.
Vegetables don’t have the same risks noted above that are associated with meat. In fact, they contain healthful substances like antioxidants. Adding vegetables to your grilled food helps to decrease the health risks associated with grilling.
You may also want to look into different types of charcoal, my hubby Mike and I use a Coconut Charcoal because it's been proven to be less toxic, I share the link to it, in the recipe guide below.
Remember, grilling can be fun and healthy with just a few simple shifts.
Change starts with awareness...
Awareness leads to us being more mindful...
Change is about mindful progress, NOT perfection!
That being said, try not to overthink, simply start to be more aware as you enjoy grilling this summer.