Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

Grilling Can be Hazardous to Your Health: How to Grill in a Healthy Way

August 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether it’s a holiday like the fourth of July or a family event like a reunion, summer is the perfect time for grilling outdoors. Some people grill throughout the year because they love the taste of grilled food. Unfortunately, there are studies and continuing research proving that grilled meat is one of the ways that people are letting chemicals that cause cancer into their bodies.

Family and Friends

Many people enjoy cooking outdoors because it’s the essence of all that’s great about summer. When they think about summer, it includes cooking over the grill, enjoying great food and the company of friends and family. There are risks involved with cooking over the grill, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to avoid the grill during the summer.

Raw Meat into Edible Delights

When you come right down to it, cooking changes the molecular structure of food especially meat. When you apply direct fire and heat to the organic structure of meat, there’s a chemical reaction that brings about a different flavor. Foods cooked over an open flame will have a distinctly different texture as well as flavor than foods cooked in an oven.

Changes During Grilling

Along with grilling, the spices used in the cooking process have an impact on the chemical reactions in the food. There are 3 chemicals produced when meat is grilled over an open flame. One of them is called heterocyclic amines or HCAs. Another chemical produced by grilling is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. The third chemical is advanced glycation end products or AGEs.

Advanced Glycation End Products

AGEs are linked to grilling with a dry heat and broiling, which increases the concentration of AGEs in the meat. We all have AGEs in our bodies, but the introduction of more AGEs from meat can cause them to become a problem. When AGEs were given to mice, they suffered from diabetes, kidney disease and other health issues.

Heterocyclic Amines

This chemical is caused when meat is cooked at extremely high temperatures, which is certainly the case in meat cooked over a grill. It’s also caused when meat is cooked at high heat on a stove. The appearance of HCAs in the meat increases the risk of cancer. This was seen with testing done on mice in a controlled lab environment. The amounts of HCAs can vary between people as well as the impact it has on their bodies. The amounts in meat can vary depending on how well cooked the meat is, what temperature was used and the type of meat.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

The smoke from a grill can permeate clothing as well as sting the eyes. It can also create PAHs that soak into the meat. It can cause skin cancer when inhaled or left on the skin. Lab animals were reported to get liver and stomach cancer from ingesting meat with PAHs.

Safer Grilling at Home

There are ways to enjoy grilling at home without introducing harmful chemicals into the food the family is eating. The first way is to introduce spices that can reduce AGEs and HCAs in the meat.

  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Onion
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Cider vinegar
  • Ginger

Remove Fatty Meats

Along with adding certain spices, the way the meat is grilled will have an impact on the amount of chemicals in the food. Dripping fat will cause the fire to flare, which creates smoke and PAHs. Use lean cuts of meat and avoid those meats that drip lots of grease.

Precooking the Meat

To remove fat from many of the meats people like to grill, it’s best to precook the meat on the stove inside. When it’s grilled with less heat, meat won’t develop as many AGEs.

You don’t have to avoid cooking on the grill, but it must be done in a way that reduces the amount of chemicals in the meat. This is done to avoid serious illness and cancer-causing reactions in the body.

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Frank Salvatore