While some might be wary about the cancer risks of searing a steak on a flaming grill, a few simple changes can lower that risk, a nutritionist advises.
Cooking beef, pork, fish or poultry over high temperatures can lead to the formation of chemicals that can trigger changes in your DNA that increase the risk of cancer.
“It might seem like everything fun causes cancer,” said Catherine Carpenter, a professor of clinical nutrition and a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“But it’s fine to grill meat, you just need to be aware of what parts of it increase cancer risk, and then make lifestyle changes not only that you can live with, but that you can live with for a long time,” she said.
Carpenter recommends four tips to reduce your cancer risk from grilled meats.
- Don’t grill meat on direct heat. Turn on the flame on part of the grill, and put the meat on the other part that doesn’t have any flame.
- Flip it. If the meat is exposed to direct flame, be sure to turn it over frequently to reduce your exposure to the harmful chemicals.
- Trim it. If portions of the meat become charred during grilling, cut them off before serving. That will also help reduce your exposure to these damaging chemicals.
- Add some color to your plate. Serve fruits and vegetables along with grilled meats. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that counteract the effects of the cancer-causing chemicals that can be created by grilling meat.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on cooked meats and cancer.