Grilling food is one of the healthiest ways to cook.

With Summer just around the corner, an additional season is about to start, the grilling season. Once the weather turns nice, outdoor cooking and weekend barbecues become standard fair. Grilling food is one of the healthiest ways to cook, if you take the right precautions. A genuine concern about grilling is that there is a cancer risk associated with grilled food. Two chemicals are produced when foods (mostly meats) are exposed to intense heat and flames.

Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are the chemicals that are formed when meat is cooked over intense heat and flames.

These chemicals are formed mostly from the fat from meat and the smoke that is created from the burning of the meat. PAH and HCA also form on the bottom of the grill surface. The more PAH and HCA that have built-up on the bottom of the grill, the greater the likelihood that the food you are cooking will be exposed to these harmful chemicals.

Never fear, there are useful suggestions you can follow to prevent the build-up of the cancer causing chemicals that can harm your food and your health.

It turns out that marinades protect your food by preventing the formation of HCA and PAH. A marinade made with olive oil and citrus juice will reduce the production of these chemicals by as much as 99%. Adding certain herbs to your food and marinades, such as thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano, also will reduce the formation of these chemicals. These herbs, from the family lamiaceae, are antioxidants that prevent the build-up of cancer causing free radicals in grilled meats. Derrick Riches, the author of Healthy Grilling, suggests that we will get the greatest health benefits from grilling, and also eliminate a potential cancer contributor, by cleaning the grill regularly, trimming the excess fat from meat, not over cooking food and avoiding flame flare-ups.

Grilling food is a great way eat; with these tips, it is now a healthy way to eat.

(Information above is from Dr. Cory Koch e-newsletter)

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