Well, the problem is that the high temperatures convert proteins in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs are chemicals that have been linked to a number of cancers including breast, colon, stomach and prostate cancers.
Secondly, when all that fat or juice from the meat drips down to the heat surface on a grill, smoke is produced. This smoke contains potential cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). As smoke rises up past the food, the carcinogens can be deposited on the surface of the meat.
Here are some tips for getting your grilled food fix without as much risk!
1. Use a marinade. Research published in the Journal of Food Science found that marinating meats (or pork or chicken) can reduce the HCAs by as much as 70%. Marinades with lots of spices (which contain antioxidants) are particularly good. Here is my sister’s own marinade which also happens to be my favorite! Crushed garlic (at least 1 Tbsp), ¼ cup Olive Oil, ½ cup Sesame Oil and ¼ cup Soy sauce.
2. Chose lean meats so there is less fat to drip down on the fire.
3. Include lots of vegetables on the grill- they’re not subject to HCA or PAH formation, and they provide lots of antioxidants to help protect our cells and DNA from damage.
4. Flip your food often. My son thinks I flip mine too much, but I have found that to be the best secret in cooking it perfectly – I flip fish or chicken every couple of minutes, and Dana Farber recommends flipping burgers every minute. Since I do not eat burgers, I haven’t tried this, but give it a shot and let me know!
Best of Health,