Great Grilling Tips for a Healthy Summer BBQ

Summertime means plenty of barbecues and grilling… and to keep our summertime foods as healthy as possible, The American Institute for Cancer Research has some helpful healthy summer grilling tips.

Research tells us that grilling foods can increase their level of cancer-causing chemicals. Fish, red meat and poultry are the most potentially harmful when prepared on the grill. Why? When the fat from the meat drips onto the coals or stones in the grill, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are formed. These chemicals are deposited on the food from the smoke and flare-ups in the form of charring on the outer surfaces of the meat. The meats themselves produce another carcinogen, HCA (heterocyclic amines), which is formed in the animal protein when it is cooked at high temperatures. HCAs have been responsible for increasing cancer risk in the colon, prostrate, stomach and breasts.

The following healthy BBQ grilling tips can help keep your foods free of carcinogens.

  • Trim meats to be as lean as possible.
  • Marinate grilled foods in low-fat marinades to reduce the HCAs.
  • Watch your portions- eat small amounts of grilled meats.
  • Lower temperature, and turn the foods often.
  • Pre-cook meats before placing them on the grill. (pre-bake or parboil)
  • Wrap foods in foil; poke small holes in it while cooking. This allows the fat to drip out, but keeps the meat protected from smoke.
  • Never eat charred or burnt pieces.
  • Place meat on skewers, cut in small pieces, so shorter the cooking time.

Try making grilled fruits and vegetables instead; they add volume and variety to your barbecue. Consider preparing grilled meat as a side dish rather than an entrée. Cook pastas, vegetables, salads and fruit dishes to serve with the meat. Also instead of serving thinly sliced grilled steak with a side salad, try making a large salad and topping it with grilled fish or chicken. The healthiest way to enjoy outdoor cooking is to plan ahead and make sure you are balancing the meal with plenty of vegetables and fruits, using moderation and portion control.

Check out our website, for great grilling recipes and menu ideas.