If meats are cooked improperly, they may increase your risk of cancers, especially those of the colon and rectum. Char-grilled meats contain HCAs – heterocyclic amines - and PAHs – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - that are formed when meats are cooked at high direct temperatures, developing a black smoky layer on them.
|Fish is your healthiest bet!|
- To start with, scrub the grill (especially any black bits left) and the utensils you will use to cook food with, and don't forget to clean coolers and other containers with warm water and soap before and after using them.
- Make sure to have different cutting boards for meats and veggies/fruits. During food preparation and food cooking, avoid any cross-contamination/contact between raw food and ready to eat ones, those that will not be exposed to the cooking step before eating.
- Avoid processed & fatty meats like hot dogs, sausages, ham, bacon and fatty meats. Buy lean meat cuts and lots of fish. This way you will decrease your fat intake as well as processed red meats filled with preservatives and additives that will only increase your cancer risk. Stick with fish for it contains less fat and cooks faster than other meats, this way you will decrease the formation of HCAs. You can also trim all visible fat that smoke and drip during cooking and that increase HCAs.
- Don't char or burn meat, poultry or fish to blacken them. These black bits on your meat are the HCAs that can damage your genes, raising your risk for stomach and colorectal cancers. Lower the temperature by spreading the coals thin properly on the grill bottom. This reduces the direct heat exposure by increasing the distance between your food and the coals.
- Moreover, you can also marinade your meats with vinegar, lemon juice, herbs (rosemary, tarragon or mint for example), not only to add a delicious taste to your meats, but also to reduce HCA formation.
- Keep in mind not to make your picnic meals all about meats! Place one meat and one veggie in a row and forget about that white chunk of fat dad wants to put in all the BBQs. Don't even place it with your meat before grilling because its drips increase HCAs formation! Load up your plates with veggies like grilled onions, tomatoes, zucchini and eggplants in order to increase your fibers and antioxidants. Don’t peel veggies, not even your corn on the cob. Those peels can in fact help keep your vegetables from drying out, keeping them moist and delicious!
- As for your dessert, you can grill fruits sprinkled with cinnamon or honey. You can also cut yourself fresh watermelon/cantaloupe chunks but make sure to clean their outer surface and to use a clean knife to avoid any contamination form its outer surface!
- Last but not least, clean everything up - especially your grill - with warm water and soap!