Skip to content

How to Grill Safe

Most of us enjoy grilling all year round. When you heat protein at high temperatures, you get a nice flavor and a dose of HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). 

HCAs develop when fish, chicken, or red meats are pan-fried, and PAHs form when fat drips onto hot coals, creating smoke that rises and deposits on the outside of grilled meats. More carcinogenic compounds form when fatty cuts of meat are cooked. Both chemicals raise the risk of cancer. 

The Iowa Women’s Health Study found that women who consistently ate well-done red meat had about five times the risk of breast cancer than women who ate their meats rare or medium. Numerous population studies have used detailed questionnaires to examine participants’ meat consumption and meat cooking methods to estimate HCA and PAH exposures. Researchers associated high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats with increased colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer risks. 

This post may contain affiliate links to products and services we know are of high quality and will bring you value. This means we will be paid a small fee if you click and buy from our site, at no additional cost to you. By doing so, you’ll help us continue to develop affordable, quality online cancer programs. Thank you! 

Here are tips on how to reduce your exposure to HCAs and PAHs:

• Do not consume grilled meats every day. Instead, bake, broil, or stew meats. 

• Choose the least fatty cuts of meat. Eat more fish and chicken and less beef and pork. 

• Mix textured vegetable protein into your ground beef or turkey to cut the fat. 

• Trim fat from meats before cooking and discard any charred parts. 

• Precook meats in the microwave for about sixty to ninety seconds. 

• Thaw meat before putting it on the grill. Frozen meat usually chars on the outside while the inside remains frozen. 

• Marinate your meat before you grill it to help set up a barrier to prevent HCAs’ formation. Increase garlic and onion in the marinade to significantly decreased the amount of these cancer-causing substances. Not lemon juice…garlic and onion!

• Don’t eat the skin or liquid drippings from the meat. 

• Eat foods rich in linoleic acids such as soybeans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds. In preliminary studies, high doses of linoleic acid appear to inhibit cancer caused by PAHs.

• Try grilling with coconut shell briquettes. Research has found that salmon grilled with coconut shell charcoal had significantly lower amounts of HAs and PAHs than salmon grilled with usual wood charcoal. (Food and chemical toxicology, Mar 2012)

Factors that enhance carcinogenesis when combined with HCAs include: A high-fat diet and caffeine.  Factors that inhibit carcinogenesis when combined with HCAs include: DHA,  conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), soy isoflavones, green tea catechins, indole-3 carbinol from cruciferous veggies, probiotics, and gamma-tocopherol.

error: Our content is protected. Thank you