Is Grilling Linked to Cancer?
Grilling is a low-fat method of cooking, says Elizabeth Schaub, registered and licensed dietitian on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. But we have to be aware that it can increase our risk of cancer if we eat grilled meats too often.
It s true those juicy burgers, especially the charred ones, can contain cancer-causing carcinogens. When you grill meat some of the fat does drip down on to the charcoal and when fat meets that really high temperature it develops a carcinogen and the smoke carries the carcinogen back up to the meat which can be dangerous for our bodies, explains Schaub.
But there are some ways to grill safer. One is to simply avoid burning or searing meats. Cooking food longer at lower temperatures is best.
"To also cut down on carcinogens you can decrease the amount of time that the food is actually on the grill, adds Schaub. Precook the meat in either the oven or the microwave then finish it up on the grill just to give it a little bit of crispness and a little bit of flavor.
Another tip is to choose leaner cuts.
Skinless chicken or lean beef or pork, suggests Schaub. Decreasing the amount of fat that s able to drip down onto the coals also will decrease your carcinogens.
And finally, remember that just meat cooked on the grill can form cancer-causing chemicals other foods pose no risk.
You really don t get carcinogen development when you grill fruits and vegetables and those can be a nice, flavorful accompaniment to a low-fat piece of meat for a meal, adds Schaub.
What about fish? Can it too develop carcinogens on the grill? Experts say yes, red meat, chicken, fish anything that contains protein can develop carcinogens.
So remember don t char your meat and lower the temperature of your grill. Also, cutting meats up and skewering them can cut down on their time on the grill meaning less carcinogens. And finally, flipping foods frequently can help prevent the chemicals from forming.
For more information about Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, visit Baylor Health Care System: Providing care to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and its surrounding areas..