Thursday, May 22, 2008

Healthy Barbecue Tips Minimize Cancer Risk

With the Memorial Day weekend upon us, it's time to drag out the old barbecue. Barbecue and summer fun go hand in hand, don't they? By following these healthy barbecue tips, you can minimize the potential cancer risk from charred barbecued meat.

Cancer risk from barbecue is much lower if you reduce the charring of the meat so here are some great tips:

Before cooking barbecued meat:

  • Barbecue only lean meats and remove skin and excess fat. It’s always a good idea to remove skin from any meat before you cook since skin is where many of the cancer-causing elements are found. With barbecued meats, though, it's especially important to remove skin because the fat stored there causes fire flare-ups and charring.
  • Cut meat into smaller portions so it will cook faster.
  • Partially cook your meat in the oven prior to putting it on the BBQ. This reduces exposure time of your meat to the fire and potential burning, smoke and charring.
  • Marinade your meat to coat and protect it from the chemical changes caused by barbecuing to help minimize cancer risk. Be sure to discard excess marinade before cooking meat as it might drip into the fire and cause smoking and flare-ups.
  • Use thin marinades made of vinegar or lemon. Thicker marinades can increase charring.

During the cooking stage of BBQ:

  • Keep your grill at least 6 inches above the fire or heat source to prevent charring.
  • Turn meat frequently on barbecue.
  • Prevent grease drippings which create smoke by lining the grill with perforated aluminum foil.
  • BBQ meat on cedar planks.
  • Make kabobs, alternating the meat with veggies, as these take less cooking time.
  • BBQ veggies with your meat. A diet rich in fruit and veggies can help greatly reduce cancer risk. Steamed or grilled vegetables are tasty and retain more nutrients than those that are boiled.
  • Keep your exposure to barbecued meats to about once a week to minimize risk.

Remember too, don't stress out about enjoying your favorite summer pass time of barbecuing. A healthy lifestyle which includes lots of fruits and veggies, exercise and relaxation can tolerate a little barbecued meat in moderation.

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