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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center
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St. Joseph's Health Connections

Jul 4 2013
Summer Time Grilling

The summer is here and what better way to enjoy the nice weather by having a BBQ. Grilling is an excellent way to reduce the fat content of meats, as the fat drips off as the food cooks, resulting in a lower fat meal. Often times, cooking vegetables in water leaches out the beneficial vitamins and minerals, however, grilling vegetables will help maintain the vegetables moisture and vitamin and mineral content.

Although grilling is a very healthy way to cook, some people have become concerned with grilling and the risk of cancer. While there is no evidence that grilling causes cancer, cooking meat at high temperatures, as is done with grilling, does produce heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) compounds, which are linked to some cancers. This does not mean you should stop grilling, simply be aware of some of the ways you can reduce your risks.

To reduce HCA and PAH when grilling

  • Trim the fat on your meat or poultry when grilling to reduce fat from dripping.
  • Use marinades when grilling. Research shows that the antioxidants in marinades block HCA from forming.
  • Keep the grill clean.
  • Don’t overcook foods. Charred bits are the largest sources of PAH and HCA.
  • Rub your food in herbs before putting them on the grill. Try basil, mint, rosemary, or sage. Herbs have also been seen to block HCA formation.


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The information provided on this site should not be taken as medical advice. As always, we strongly recommend that you consult with a physician if you have any medical concerns.