The links between our cooking methods, and even the things we eat, and cancer are in ever growing numbers. But with our advice you can easily reduce this risk.
Follow our five key tips to enjoy a healthier barbecue.
#1. Choose the right coals
One for the charcoal grill chefs here. Easy-light briquettes are coated in toxic chemicals that have no place being near your food.
For a safer experience, choose lump coals. They don’t come drowned in a layer of chemicals, plus they’re much more affordable. They are known for being a little more difficult to burn consistently, but do add to a more authentic grill flavor.
#2. Cook at the right temperature
While we’re often told that high temperature help to obliterate unhealthy bacteria from our meats, higher cooking temperatures can result in much higher carcinogenic levels than those grilled at a lower heat. Meat cooked at 325°F or higher has been shown to form high levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), a known carcinogen and often found in cigarette smoke. This is caused by a reaction between the creatine and sugar naturally found in meat.
Aim to grill your meat at lower temperatures or if you do want to cook at a high temperature then be sure to do so for a shorter time.
#3. Arm your grill properly
The fat dripping from barbecued meat can land on your coals, resulting in the emissions of smoke containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Equip your grill to combat this with a drip shield, which will catch any excess fat dropping from the grill.
Ensuring that your grill is well ventilated will also pass any carcinogenic fumes away from you.
#4. Buy the right food
Processed meats are a carcinogenic nightmare, and nowhere are they seen more than by the grill. Red meats such as burger patties, bacon and hot dogs are highly carcinogenic, so try to cook meats like fish and chicken, which are healthier in content.
Creatine is absent in vegetables, meaning that HCAs are too.
Creating a marinade with a vinegar base can act as a fantastic protective layer on your meat against heterocyclic amines while on the grill. Avoid store-bought marinades, as they have often been found to treble (!!!) the number of HCAs in meat.
Make a marinade out of rosemary, with your choice of thyme, garlic, mint or sage (don’t add any sugar), to help greatly reduce the carcinogenic levels of your food. All of these have been shown to be rich in carnosic acid, carnosol and rosmarinic acid, which are all strong antioxidants.
What tips would you recommend for a healthier BBQ? Let us know in the comments below!