Are Barbequed Foods Unhealthy?
Let’s take a look at some of the concerns when it comes to using the grill to cook all of your favorite summertime foods. (1)
- One of the biggest concerns has to do with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These are known as potential carcinogens that form when the fat from the meat you are grilling drips onto the coals. These carcinogens can then get into your food you are grilling.
- Another big issue is that the same HCA compounds are also produced with high heat cooking like grilling.
- You know that charring that tends to form on the meat you are grilling that gives it that traditional BBQ taste? Unfortunately, the charring can contain these harmful PAH and HCA compounds as well.
So, what’s the solution? If you love grilling, especially during the summer months, the good news is that you don’t have to completely give it up. Here are some tips and tricks for healthier grilling this summer.
#1 Reduce Grilling Time: Since high heat cooking can lead to HCA compound production, consider precooking your meats or fish by baking or sauteing, and then add to the grill for just a few minutes to finish cooking.
#2 Stick to Fruits & Veggies: Veggies like onions, zucchini, bell peppers, and fruits like pineapple are all delicious BBQ options. And, the harmful HCA and PAH compounds don’t form on fruits and vegetables. (2) Here’s just another reason to add more fruits and veggies to our meals this summer.
#3 Choose Lean Meat: When BBQing, choose a lean meat option like a chicken breast or even try a veggie burger. With a leaner option, you reduce the chance that fat is going to drip onto the coals and cause those HCA and PAH compounds from getting into your food.
The warm summer months are such a great time to get outside, and so many people enjoy grilling their food at least a few times per week. Try implementing these tips to reduce your risk of certain carcinogen exposure in the foods you do choose to grill.
And, when you do grill, use this as an opportunity to choose leaner as well as more plant-based foods to add to your diet. Not only are they packed full of nutritional value, but plant-based food options are also much healthier BBQ alternatives that you can enjoy throughout the rest of the summer season and beyond.