It’s official! Grilling season has begun! Dust off the grill and invest in a new bag of charcoal! While we all know to keep a safe distance from the flames, we may not be aware of other grilling hot topics. The types of foods we grill, the manner in which these foods are prepared and the method in which they are cooked all play an important role in our health. So before you flip your next burger, consider this:
1.) Keep it hot, but not too hot. Charring meat can activate heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs.) HCAs and PAHs are chemical compounds which cause cancer in laboratory animals. Though their effect on humans is unknown, it’s best to avoid exposure. Grill your meats at a lower heat and invest in a meat thermometer to ensure your food has reached the correct internal temperature.
2.) Keep it clean. Clean your grill before and after cooking. A clean grill will help your food taste fresher and will decrease the amount of carcinogens left behind.
3.) Spice it up. Spicy marinades containing rosemary, thyme, mint or sage have antioxidants that can reduce the production of HCAs. They also taste delicious, so dip in!
4.) Go Fish. Grilling fish in lieu of red meat not only limits our intake of saturated fats, but also increases our intake of healthy fats. Grilled fish also has fewer calories and takes less time to cook than most red meats.
5.) Veg out and fire up the fruit. From pineapple to peaches, artichokes to asparagus – the flavors of our fruits and veggies are enhanced on the grill. Grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in our fruits and preserves the nutrients already present in our veggies.
‘Tis the season – get outside and get cookin’!!
Photo credit: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/teach-others/fsis-educational-campaigns/grill-it-safe/grill-it-safe