Can you name one person who doesn’t love grilled foods during the summer? We all love grilling chicken, juicy steaks, salmon on cedar planks, and all types of vegetables and fruits that are smothered in delectable sauces and served up with salads fresh from the garden. But is grilling healthy for us? That’s the question that Jenni is going to answer for us today.
Let’s see what healthy grilling advice Jenni has for us regarding this favorite summer pastime . . .
How to Grill Healthy Meals For Your Family and Friends
Getting out the grill on a hot summer day is perhaps one of the most fabulous things about the American dream. I feel silly saying it that way, but it is the truth. Almost anywhere you go in the United States, if the weather is permitting, people are grilling. Home cooked food is generally substantially healthier than food from restaurants, and most certainly than food from fast food chains. It has been discovered recently, however, that grilling can actually have some negative health effects. Specifically, grilling of certain types of meats can produce cancer causing compounds. So while it is better to cook at home whenever you can, if you plan to grill, be sure to take steps to reduce the production of the harmful compounds.
Heterocyclic Amines and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are the two cancer causing compounds that have been linked to outdoor grilling. Heterocyclic Amines are released when grilling meats and fish at high temperatures and have been linked to stomach and colon cancer. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are cancer causing compounds produced by fats leaking into the hot coals and getting released into the smoke, which then coats the meat. These polycyclic compounds have also been linked to higher instances of childhood asthma, so it is important to be mindful of how you barbeque your food. Fortunately, there are some very simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of consuming these harmful compounds.
- Marinades have been found to reduce the amount of compounds that are produced during grilling. The reason why this is so is not completely clear, but it is true none the less. Marinades that have spices containing antioxidants rich in polyphenol have been shown to have the most benefit in reducing the amount of these compounds that are produced.
- Grill veggies along with the meats. By doing this you not only provide more nutrients, but reduce meat consumption all together. Grilled vegetables do not produce the harmful compounds and are thus safer to eat.
- Do not overcook the meats. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are less frequent when grilling leaner meats that are not over cooked. Well-done meat has 2 to 5 times the risk for colon cancer, 2 to 3 times the risk for breast cancer, and a significantly increased risk for stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. By flipping the meat once every minute and making sure not to char it will reduce the amount of harmful compounds in your meal. If you can, place the meats farther from the flames so that you can avoid flare-ups as well.
While there are real risk factors involved when it comes to consuming these harmful compounds, grilling is still one of the healthiest ways to cook food as long as you are careful. By having control over what you are eating, and what goes in the marinade, you can choose leaner meats and incorporate a healthy serving of grilled vegetables as well. In addition, you get to spend time outdoors and enjoy the weather. The act of barbequing can also be very relaxing. Set up your grill in a way that is safest for grilling, cook your foods at low temperatures, and use marinades that are rich in antioxidants. This way you can eat healthy and steer clear of health complications that could result in cancer.
For further information, see Nutrition.about.com and UAB Medicine regarding taking a cautious approach to grilling your favorite foods.
About the author: Jenni Sunde is a freelance fashion writer and pop culture junkie. Jenni specializes in all things lifestyle-related. From home and design to health and beauty. With her love of art and all things beautiful, she delights in sharing her sense of style from her life to your computer monitor. Her title pegs her as an editor at a website that specializes in providing people with auto insurance quotes, but her passion leads her into writing with a little more substance and a lot more heart.
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