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Healthy Barbecuing

It’s that time of year again. Summer time. The sun is blazing and the kids are splashing through the sprinkler. Grilling a nice-sized steak fits really well into this picture.

Did you know that grilling/ barbecuing has the potential to create carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents?

These compounds/ chemicals result from high heat and open flame that causes charring on food. This can happen with a direct reaction between the proteins in the meat and high heat, or when the fat drips, burns and coats the meat with toxic compounds. Unfortunately, smoked meat can also create these compounds from the smoking process. It creates a yummy flavor but can also deposit harmful chemicals on the meat as well.

Time and high temperatures are the main factor here. The composition of the meat also impacts the formation of these toxic chemicals.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re grilling in a healthy way:
– Grill lean meats without skin and with excess fat trimmed off. The fat can drip off and burn.
– Clean the grill before every use with a non-metal bristle brush. Metal bristles have been known to break off and get stuck in your food and cause serious issues. Buildup of char on the grill can also deposit chemicals onto your food. 
– Put the meat on aluminum foil with holes punctured to protect the meat from the smoke and drain the fat but still get the yummy flavor.
– Grill more fruits and vegetables: Although char can still form on vegetables, it is less likely.
– Do not overcook your meat: Here are the temperatures for meat cooking. Remove the meat as soon as it’s done to prevent char formation. 
     – Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.) = 165 F
     – Ground meats, pork, and sausage = 160 F
     – Steaks, roasts, and chops = 145 F
     – Fish and seafood = 145 F
– Scape off any char present on your meat or fruits/ vegetables. Do as best as you can, it doesn’t have to be perfect. 
– Marinating your meat and seasoning with things like pepper can help to decrease the formation of these toxic compounds.
– Do what you can to shorten the cook time: Cut meat into smaller pieces or pre-cook your meat.
– Make eating smoked meat a treat instead of a regular occurrence. 

All these things, you don’t have to stop grilling or smoking meat. Maybe just start thinking about these things when you are cooking your meat.


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