This past week we were once again blessed with lovely warm summer weather. Nearly invariably, most meat lovers will almost instinctively take their BBQ out to prepare meat. But is having barbecued meat such a great idea?
To be honest, it isn't, especially not when you allow your food to get burnt above a too highly lit flame. When meat is cooked at high temperatures, it forms carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
HCAs build up in the charred parts of meat or vegetables, while PAHs are caused by excess smoke surrounding food. The same PAHs are also found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.
By contrast, AGEs build up internally in overcooked food. Eating too much overcooked meats will increase risk of prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer.
Therefore a few tips to lower your risks when cooking on a BBQ.
Marinate your meat with garlic, rosemary, fruit pulp, and spice rubs like chili powder and paprika as this lowers hydrocarbon production.
Adding dark beer (which contains more antioxidants than light beer) to the marinade also decreases HCAs' mutagenicity.
Dark red wine also works, but the darkest type of beer is more effective.
Reduce the amount of AGEs in your food by using an acidic marinade that contains lemon juice or vinegar.
Pre-cook your meat in the microwave for 90 seconds in order to reduce preparation time on the grill and diminish chances of bacterial infection.
Also turn down down the heat. Direct exposure to high temps above 150°C are a main contributor to HCA and PAH production in meat.
When on the grill, cook it in as little time as possible, preferring medium rare over well done.
Avoid having burnt meat by constantly flipping your meats to limit surface exposure. If it still gets burnt, cut off the burnt spot before eating it.
Choose the right oil that can withstand higher temperatures, such as coconut oil. Oils that cannot tolerate higher temperatures will not just taste bad but also have similar unhealthy effects on the body.
As for what type of meat to put on the BBQ: preferably use high-quality, organic and grass-fed meats and avoid hot dogs, bratwurst and other processed meats.