Reduce Your Risk of Cancer From Grilling

Published:  09/29/2022

High-heat cooking methods such as grilling and broiling cause meat, poultry, and fish to form potentially carcinogenic chemicals, especially if charring occurs.

One way to reduce these compounds is to marinate meats before grilling them, using a marinade such as this one containing vinegar and rosemary. 

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all ingredients. Shake well. This can be made ahead of time, up to 2 days.

Marinade the meat, poultry, or fish at least 30 minutes.

This is enough marinade for 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of meat, poultry, or fish.

The National Institute of Cancer says:

Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame. HCAs and PAHs have been found to cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

HCAs are formed when amino acids, sugars, and creatine or creatinine (substances found in muscle) react at high temperatures. PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over a heated surface or open fire drip onto the surface or fire, causing flames and smoke. The smoke contains PAHs that then adhere to the surface of the meat. PAHs can also be formed during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats.

Studies by The American Institute for Cancer Research have shown that marinating meat for at least 30 minutes creates a kind of barrier between the food and the carcinogens that can form during grilling.

The antioxidants in marinades containing wine, beer, herbs, and citrus, among other ingredients, block the formation of HCAs.

Researchers from Kansas State University and The Journal of Food Science suggest using these ingredients in your marinade.

  • Marinades made with spices, citrus, fruit juice can reduce HCAs by 88%
  • Herb marinades — especially those with anti-cancer power-herb, rosemary — can reduce HCAs by 72%
  • Vinegar or BBQ sauce can reduce harmful compounds by 57%


Tags:   #healthyhabits #healthylifestyle

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