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Grill out, but watch out for HCA’s!

Healthy Grilling


Its summer time and nothing beats grilling pork tenderloin, chicken breast or a filet on a Sunday afternoon.  But as good as it tastes, there may some risks lurking. When animal proteins are cooked at very high temperatures as they are when grilling, a potential cancer causing chemical called Heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) may be created. Other potentially dangerous chemicals are created when fat drips into the heat source, burns and creates smoke which floats back up and coats the meat.


Does that mean you should never grill, fortunately, it does not.  It does mean that if you grill regularly, you should take some precautions. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research you can drastically reduce your exposure to these chemicals by following these recommendations:


–  Limit the intake of grilled animal products to no more than 2 times per week.


–  Over cooking any animal products can create these potentially dangerous chemical but fatty meats are the worst offenders so choose lean meats when grilling and trim all visible fat.


– Marinate your meats. This will reduce the formation of HCA’s by as much as 90%. Citrus juice, cider, vinegar, mustard and herbs work best.


– Precook your meat part way then finish on the grill.


– Keep meats away from flame ups by not cooking the food directly over the heat source, and using lean cuts.


– Flip the meat frequently to prevent charring.


– Don’t eat the charred or burned part of the meat, (sorry, I know for some of you, that’s your favorite part) that is where the HCA’s consetrate.


– Enjoy grilled vegetables, veggie burgers, and tofu, as they produce little or no HCA’s when exposed to high temperatures.


By following these simple guidelines, you can grill your meat and eat it too.

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