Summer grilling season is in full swing! Many New Englanders love to use their grills all summer long and rarely turn on the oven from May until September. Grilling makes mealtime cooking and clean up so much easier, and most of us prefer the flavor of some healthier foods like fish and vegetables when they are grilled. Studies have been released indicating that there is an increased risk of cancer from some types of grilled food. But don’t dismay, grill masters, we have tips to help you prepare your food safely!
Processed and red meat and cancer
Researchers have known for years that people who eat more processed and red meat have a higher risk of cancer, specifically colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) notes that the risk of colon and rectal cancer rises by about 20 percent for every serving or red or processed meat you eat per day. According to the AICR, that includes things like steak and burgers as well as pork, lamb, ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages, all big grilling favorites.
The nitrites used to color and preserve processed meats (ever wonder why corned beef is pink?) are the suspected link between processed meats and cancer. Research on a link between unprocessed red meat and cancer is still unclear.
Try to eat no more than 4-6 oz (cooked weight) of processed and/or red meat each week. Instead of these foods, substitute more lean chicken breast, fish, and of course, lots of veggies.
HCA and grilling
Another area of concern is something called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These are cancer-causing agents that are formed when meat, poultry or fish is cooked to well done and charred during grilling. There haven’t been many research studies on these compounds and their specific link to cancer, but let’s play it safe and try to avoid them, anyway. The good news is that they are easy to avoid, and you can still enjoy your grilled foods.
So grill on readers, but do it safely!