The blackened meats and smoky flavor that come with grilling could put your health at risk, experts caution.
High-heat grilling can convert proteins found in red meat, pork, poultry and fish into heterocyclic amines. These chemicals have been linked to breast, stomach, prostate and colon cancer.
The following tips to reduce exposure to cancer-causing agents:
Choose meats wisely. Avoid grilling high-fat meats, like ribs and sausages. Instead, choose lean meats, which create less dripping and less smoke. Always trim excess fat and remove skin.
Try thin marinades. Thicker marinades tend to char, which could increase exposure to cancer-causing agents. Choose marinades made with vinegar or lemon, which will form a protective layer on the meat.
Reduce grilling time. Always thaw meat before cooking. Meat and fish also should be partially cooked in the microwave before grilling. This will reduce cooking time and the risk for smoke flare-ups.
Flip often. Flipping burgers once every minute will help prevent burning or charring.
Consider food placement. Be sure to place food at least six inches away from a heat source.
Create a barrier. Do not allow juices to spill and produce harmful smoke. Line the grill with aluminum foil or cook on cedar planks.
— Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health