With more people going to restaurants less often, home cooking is on the rise. While grilling is a typically a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table, it can also pose a risk to your health. Exposing meat to high-temperatures produces the formation of unhealthy chemicals, which are suspected to cause cancer. The good news is, there are ways to avoid it. Lauren Rashap, of Lauren Living Healthy, shares her tips to make your next BBQ a healthy success.
Tips To Avoid Hidden Health Hazards While You Grill
#1 Stop Using Aluminum Foil
Aluminum is a toxic metal. Research shows that when you heat aluminum (as you do on the grill), this toxic compound can leach into your food.
#2 Don’t Overcook Your Meat
Give up on the charring! Grilling meat at high temperatures produces compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs have been shown to damage DNA and may act as carcinogens. When you overcook your food, it increases the amount of these compounds that are produced, thereby increasing the risk of health complications like cancer.
HCAs are formed when the amino acids (building blocks of protein) interact with glucose (sugar), and a substance in muscle meat called creatine at high temperatures. With the common use of sugary marinades and BBQ sauce and the high-heat nature of grilling, this creates the perfect storm for HCA formation. So a big tip is : Add your sauce once the meat is off the grill.
#3 Choose The Right Marinade
Many store-bought marinades are loaded with sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. These ingredients can enhance the production of HCAs due to their high glucose (sugar) content. It is better to choose marinades that are made with oil or vinegar.
Another health hack is to load up on antioxidant-rich herb blends like turmeric, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano to further reduce the formation of HCAs. Some research actually shows that can result in up to an 88% reduction.
Also, avoid the marinades made with GMO industrial seed oils. The biggest culprits here are soy bean oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed and “vegetable” oils. These fats are always rancid and cause inflammation. Industrial seed oils are easily damaged by high temperature and pressure. When heated to extreme temperatures (like in frying or grilling) they create trans fats that are very harmful to your health.
#4 Choose High-Quality Meat
Avoid hormone riddled and antibiotic ridden factory-farmed meat. Always look for organic, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised chicken which are higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Most modern diets skew higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids (estimated 15:1), while historically it was believed that ratio was closer to 1:1. While both types of fat are essential to health, omega-3 fats are known for their anti-inflammatory activity, while many omega-6 fats can be pro-inflammatory.
Owner, Lauren Living Healthy
Lauren Rashap is a third generation health practitioner with over 18 years in private practice. A certified clinical nutritionist and yoga and meditation instructor, Lauren developed one of the first, full-service “traveling spas.” She is the founder of Lauren Living Healthy, author of the book, “Vibrant Skin at Any Age,” and an award winning speaker.