Healthier grilling: tips to reduce the risk of cancer

Healthier grilling: tips to reduce the risk of cancer

Healthier grilling: tips to reduce the risk of cancer

Research has suggested a link between grilled food and cancer, but you can reduce that risk with these simple tips for grilling healthier.

mother and son grilling food with the familyMaskot/Getty Images

Summer wouldn’t be summer without firing up the grill and inviting friends and family over for a barbecue. And yet, grilling outdoors isn’t always good for you, thanks to certain grill-worthy foods and practices. Take red meat for example. This quintessential grilled food has been linked to an increased risk of colon and other cancers. Make things worse? The accidental exposure to potentially carcinogenic compounds inherent in the grilling process.

But that doesn’t mean you have to do without the grill. “A little preparation, creativity, and healthy food choices can really make a big difference in making grilling healthier,” says Sheena Patel Swanner RDN, LD, director of nutrition programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research. Read on for proven grilling tips. (Here are 10 foods cancer doctors try to avoid.)

Close up of burger patties on the grillTetra Pictures/Getty Pictures

Stay away from burnt oxen

If well-done burgers or hot dogs are your thing, consider this: Eating thoroughly cooked or charred meat on a regular basis can increase your risk of cancer. Specifically, they produce HCAs (short for heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), according to the National Cancer Institute. HCAs build up in meat, while PAHs are found in smoke and can stick to the meat surface, Swanner says. “Laboratory studies have shown that [both of these compounds] can change our DNA, and that in turn can increase the risk of cancer.” (Here are 11 things that might happen if you eat too much meat.)

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