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Nutrition | This Barbecue Season, Make Your Meat Healthier
@ Women Grilling and Smiling

Using marinades made from a combination of oil, salt, sugar, and a variety of herbs and spices reduces the HCAs in grilled meats.

This Barbecue Season, Make Your Meat Healthier

While a favorite summer pastime, cooking meats on the outdoor grill is also known to help form carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which may be why studies have linked high intake of well-done fried or barbequed meats with increased risks of several cancers. So add to the enjoyment of your meals by making them as healthy as possible. Try these tips to help reduce HCA exposure:

  • Opt for a gas grill or natural wood briquettes instead of charcoal. (And omit the lighter fluid, which contains high levels of volatile organic compounds that can cause smog.)
  • Use a marinade with herbs and spices, or make your own with a virgin olive oil base and plenty of rosemary and sage. Studies have found that using marinades made from a combination of oil, salt, sugar, and a variety of herbs and spices reduces the amounts of HCAs in grilled meats.
  • Precook your meat in the microwave before frying, broiling, or grilling. Studies have found that just two minutes of microwaving before putting meat on the grill can significantly reduce HCA production.
  • Grill thin cuts of lean meats, poultry, or fish (and try some organic varieties). Quickly sear food and don’t place it too close to the heat.
  • Consider using low-temperature cooking methods more often. Researchers have found that HCA levels are one third lower in meats baked or roasted at temperatures below 400°F, compared with those cooked at higher temperatures.
  • Eat lots of green vegetables. The chlorophyll in vegetables binds with carcinogens during digestion and helps to limit absorption. So, always haul out your barbeque with a healthy serving of greens.

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The health information contained in this site is not intended as medical advice and should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical care. Any products mentioned in studies cited in Healthnotes articles are not necessarily endorsed by Bastyr. As with any product, consult with a natural health practitioner to discuss what may be best for you.

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