Give It A Soak or Rub –Marinating or rubbing spices on lean meats, chicken or fish not only add flavor but studies suggest that they can also help reduce the level of carcinogens, or unhealthy substances that form from burning foods.1,2 Use about ½ cup marinade or 1 tablespoon of spice rub for each pound of meat. Always discard the marinade or rub after you have finished – never reuse marinade to baste food after raw meat has touched it.
Keeping It Clean – Get in the habit of scrubbing down the grill rack or grill pan after each use. Removing leftover pieces of food stuck to the grill prevents burning, smoke and your food tasting funny the next time you grill.
Avoid the Burn – If you use charcoal, wait at least 20 minutes after lighting to cook and with a gas grill, avoid high temperatures. Food that is cooked on high heat for longer periods of time produces those unwanted carcinogens. Cut off any burnt or black bits before eating.
Cooking Tips to Help Reduce Exposure to Carcinogens3
- Avoiding direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and avoiding prolonged cooking times (especially at high temperatures).
- Using a microwave oven to cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures thus reducing the time that meat must be in contact with high heat to finish cooking.
- Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source.
- Refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings.
1Smith. J.S. et al. Effect of marinades on the formation of heterocyclic amines in grilled beef steaks. J Food Sci. 2008 Aug;73(6):100-5
2Salmon, C.P. et al. Effects of marinating on heterocyclic amine carcinogen formation in grilled chicken. Food Chem Toxicol. 1997 May;35(5):433-41.
3National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, Fact Sheet 2010. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. Retrieved September 26, 2012, from: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats
Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.