Grilled Food And Cancer Risk And Carcinogens

Is it true that grilled food can cause cancer? We are told that it is healthier to eat food which is grilled than fried in oil. Grilling is definitely a better way to cook food without adding any fat. But then again, I have read articles by many cancer societies and also medical reports that grilled food may cause cancer. They all say grilling foods produces carcinogens, which are cancer causing agents. The two key causes of cancer from grilled meats are: Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

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Those burned blackened or charred parts at the edges of meat are bad for your health. They contain cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).

This health-hazard heterocyclic amines (HCAs) is formed when the amino acid, creatine in meats is break down during the heating process.

Grilling is carcinogen-forming as the process involves high heat and long cooking times. Besides grilling or fried, even oven-broiled does produces large amount of HCAs. The longer and hotter the meat is cooked, the more these compounds form.

The other dangers of consuming grilled meat is the smoke from grilling. When you grill or even broil meat over a direct naked flame, the meat juice drip onto the burning charcoal, and it produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs). This carcinogens smoke rises from the charcoal and it get sticks onto your grilled meat. The hotter the heat, the more PAHs are present.

According to medical reports, many commonly grilled foods contain alarmingly high levels of HCAs; especially those grilled well-done. Be they skinless chicken breast, steak, pork, salmon or your favorite juicy hamburger.

As we all have read that consuming too much meat (especially the fat part) has long been associated with increased risk of breast and colon cancer. While the fat in meat is said to be key cause of cancer, but, HCAs also contribute a part as well.

You can still enjoy grilled meat by reducing the cancer risk without having to give up grilling. The next time when you grill your food, make sure you don't let your grill get too smoky. Cook in lower temperature to prevent the meat from getting charred. One imprtant tip is never ever grill frozen meat.

Other things which you can do to prevent or reduce the formation of cancer-forming smoke when grillng is to trim away the fat on the steak or choose only lean meats. Another advice is to marinate your meats in sauces containing vinegar, garlic, mustard or lemon juice which can protect the surfaces of the meats from the carcinogen-causing smoke.

Remember when you grill your burger, flip the meat regularly to reduce the juices from dripping onto the hot charcoal or any hot surfaces.

One good way to reduce getting the smoke directly onto the meat is the use of aluminum foil. What I do is I wrap my meat inside the aluminum foil then places it on the grill. So there is no contamination of the cancer-causing smoke.

A good way to reduce grilling time to minimize exposure to the smoke, is go for small pieces of meat. The other thing is put your grilling rack at least 15cm away from the charcoal.

Not forgetting to clean your grill regularly to remove any accumulation of carcinogens that can be pass onto your food the next time you grill.

Other better alternatives to reduce cancer risk for grilling is to stay clear of meat. Instead go for grilled vegetables,as they do not create heterocyclic amines or HCAs.

As you know that vegetables are low in fat and high in fiber, and they also have various cancer-fighting substances like carotenoids (the pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their dark colors), have been said to help prevent cancer. The other substance is beta-carotene (found in dark green and yellow vegetables). It can protect against lung cancer and prevent bladder, mouth, larynx, esophagus and, breast cancer.

You can find out more about grilled food, cancer and carcinogens from the many cancer society sites.

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