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Healthy Grilled Dinner


Marinate your meat

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Scientists aren't sure why, but a marinade acts like a barrier between your meat and carcinogens. The American Institute for Cancer Research says marinating meat for at least 30 minutes can reduce the formation of HCAs. The type of marinade might even be a factor, according to researchers from Kansas State University and The Food Science Institute, who found that a steak cooked in a Caribbean marinade had an 88 percent drop in HCAs, while an herb marinade accounted for a 72 percent drop and a Southwestern mixture had a 57 percent drop in bad compounds.

Cut back on grill time

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Cooking meat for a long time also leads to formation of carcinogens, because you are exposing it for a longer time to smoke and flames. Try fish, which cooks significantly quicker than chicken or beef, or make skewered kebobs with cubes of meat, which will take less time to be done. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests zapping food in the microwave before throwing it on the grill, and according to Nutrition Action Healthletter, you can eliminate 90 percent of the HCAs by microwaving first. Be sure to place any partially cooked meat immediately on the grill to protect against bacteria and other food pathogens that cause illness.

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Avoid processed meats

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Skip the hot dogs and sausages. They might taste good, but cancer-causing substances form when these meats are preserved, says the American Institute For Cancer Research, which can lead to an increase in colorectal cancer. Here are one cardiologist's tips for recovering from a high-fat BBQ meal.

Keep flames at bay

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If you can, turn your grill to a low-heat setting, which makes it harder for meat to burn or char. To prevent meat from sticking and burning, oil the grill rack. You can also avoid flames near your food by placing meat or veggies on a sheet of foil (for meat, poke holes to let the fat drip), which will protect food from smoke and cut back on flame flare-ups.

Grill veggies or fruit

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You can still enjoy that grilled flavor you love and reduce your cancer risk by swapping meat for veggies, veggie burgers, or fruit, all safer choices because HCAs and PAHs form in muscle proteins. Bonus: phytochemicals found in fruits and veggies may actually reduce certain types of cancer. Here are 7 yummy foods you didn't know you could grill.

Clean the grill

istock/Stephan Zabel

Scrape down your grill when you're done cooking to get rid of carcinogenic residue that can build up. With a dirty rack, you run the risk of transferring those leftover chemicals to your food next time you grill. And don't make these grilling mistakes even seasoned BBQers sometimes do.



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