WASHINGTON (WUSA9)--Is grilling part of your summer menu? If so, we have some suggestions that will enhance the flavor of the meat and make it safer to eat.
If you are grilling, marinate the meat first!
There is no evidence that grilling meats causes cancer. However, cooking meat at the high temperatures you use to grill—as well as broil and fry—creates compounds that are linked with some cancers.
The concerns about grilled meats have been around for some time. A study focused on chicken, the most popular barbecue item, found that marinating chicken in a combination of brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and salt, significantly reduced the potential cancer causing compounds formed while cooking and it sounds delicious.
The study found that the length of time the chicken was marinated didn't matter, the results were the same for chicken marinated anywhere from 4 to 48 hours as well as chicken dipped in marinade just before grilling. Many commercially prepared marinades worked as well.
If red meat is on the menu, is marinating a good idea?
Research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that marinating red meat in beer or wine for two hours significantly reduced compounds that may cause cancer. Similarly, a Kansas State University study found that rubbing rosemary, an herb known for its high level of antioxidants, onto meats before grilling cut the levels of carcinogens up to 100 percent. Herbs including basil, mint, sage and oregano may have similar effects.
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If you're going to grill or otherwise cook at a very high temperature, marinate meats in an herb and spice filled mixture for an hour before cooking. This dramatically reduces the development of HCAs. Scientists aren't certain why but believe the reason may be herbs' and spices' antioxidant properties.
Another way to reduce the formation of carcinogens is to flip the meat frequently and avoid charring it, but some people feel that reduces the flavor and appeal of grilled meat.
If you love to grill but don't want to consumer large amounts of meat, then put fruits and vegetables on the grill because they do not produce the same suspected carcinogens as meats. Try onions brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or use a grill basket and fill it with healthy vegetables that have been tossed in oil and sprinkled with your favorite herbs.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), reports that marinating can significantly cut the risk of cancer compounds formation.
If burgers are on the menu, you may want to cook them at 400 degrees or less, or use indirect heat. (Ground beef and pork should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit; poultry and hot dogs to 165; beef, veal and lamb to between 145 and 160.) Remember, it is the high temperature not the grill that causes suspected carcinogens to form.