Everyone loves a good barbecue, but studies indicate that people who consume well-done meat—grilled, barbecued, pan fried, or broiled—on a regular basis were 60% more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dentist Columbia Dr. Gregory Wych also warns that longer cooking times might also increase the risk of stomach, lung, and breast cancer.
But don't give up your burgers just yet this Memorial Day. Read how to make grilling safer and by following our tips to making safer grilled fare.
Use a marinade. Studies indicate that spicy marinades can decrease HCA formation, so don’t hold back on the red pepper. Certain other spices are packed with antioxidants that will help to eliminate HCAs in the grilling process. One study showed that adding spices, such as thyme, sage, and garlic reduces the amount of total HCAs by 60% compared to the control.
Add alcohol. At your next barbecue, consider beer and wine for your marinade. Red wine is full of antioxidants, and this can carry over in your marinades. Marinating beef in red wine for six hours prior to grilling reduces the amount of carcinogens by 40%.
Turn down the heat. “Well-done” shouldn’t be in your vocabulary if you’re trying to decrease carcinogens. Studies indicate that higher temperatures lead to an increase in the levels of HCAs. Allow some extra time, and try to cook your meat below 325°F, which is the temperature at which HCAs begin to form.
Precook food in the microwave. Before you light up the grill, microwave your meat for one or two minutes at medium power. Studies reveal that microwaving meat for just two minutes prior to cooking decreased HCAs by 90%. But discard the juice because that’s where they lurk.
Grill veggies. Grilled veggies offer that same hot-off-the-grill taste but don’t contain carcinogens like their meaty counterparts, making them a great hearty option. However, if you just have to have grilled meat, make kebabs. Using half meat and half veggies is healthier and cuts down on the HCAs.
Less is more when it comes to marinating. Though this may sound counterintuitive, marinating meat for long periods of time may lower the percentage of antioxidants in the sauces. Play it on the safe side by aiming to marinate your meat for no more than a few hours.