This weekend marks the start of outdoor cooking season for many. Across the country people will be dusting off their grill, hosting pool parties and unofficially starting summer. Make sure that you grill smart and safe this season. There are many questions regarding grilling and a possible increased risk of cancer. It’s what you grill and how you grill that makes the difference. Here are a few tips to help you out.
- Safety First: Avoid having food borne illness on the menu. Make sure that you use separate utensils, cutting boards, and plates for raw and cooked foods. Refrigerate foods that are marinating, and never reuse the marinade to baste your meats. Make a separate marinade for basting.
- Reduce Your Grilling Risk: Evidence has shown time and again, that a diet high in red meats contributes to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting red meat to 18 ounces per week. In addition to limiting red meats the AICR recommends avoiding processed meat such as hot dogs due to a strong correlation between processed meat and colorectal cancer.
- Reduce your HCAs: The compounds that are produced in meat during the grilling process that are suggested to increase cancer risk are called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). You can greatly reduce your HCAs by cooking smaller portions thereby limiting cooking time, and using a marinade. It has been shown that marinating your meat prior to grilling can decrease HCA formation by up to 96 percent.
- Eat your veggies and fruits: Grilling vegetables and fruits produces no HCAs. Try a new grilling recipe using vegetables on a kebab this weekend.
- Trim the fat: Trim excess fats from foods that you are grilling. Try leaner cuts of beef like Filet Mignon or NY Strip.
- Try something new: I’m thinking grilled fish with mango salsa or a veggie grilled pizza. You might stumble across a new friends and family favorite.
Erika Watson-Lawson is a registered dietitian with Memorial Hospital.