Who doesn’t love summertime barbeques and the delicious smoky taste of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs? Many people don’t know however, that grilling can be hazardous to your health if not done properly. The National Cancer Institute found that for every 2.5 ounces of grilled, well-done meat you consume weekly, your risk of colon cancer goes up 26%. Unfortunately when meats are exposed to high heat, chemical compounds are formed which may increase the risk of cancer. It can also cause internal inflammation leading to type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. As with everything, there is a safer way.
Always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring. Flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens. Marinate or baste with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce to provide a barrier and help prevent charring. Honey adds great taste and a wonderful glaze. Studies published in the Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that rosemary extract or tart cherries, known for their anti-cancer properties, added to hamburger meat reduce the chemical compounds. The researchers are not sure why, but it’s certainly worth trying. Other common marinade ingredients, which are natural anti-oxidants and reduce cancer-causing compounds, are basil, mint, sage, oregano, garlic, thyme, ginger and sesame seeds. Try grilling vegetables, which don’t have the carcinogen forming compounds found in animal based foods. They are loaded with anti-oxidants.
For those non-gas grill cooks, only use 100% all natural hardwood briquettes and never use petroleum-based, toxic lighter fluid or the infused briquettes. Instead start your grill with the chimney starter which is fast, efficient and safe! For an extra healthy punch, add nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, another powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn! Enjoy!