Grilling out is one of America’s favorite ways to prepare food as well as to gather together with friends to have what I call a cook-out and others call a BBQ, depending on where you are from. Since I rarely eat meat, I like to grill vegetables. Just last night I cut up some local new potatoes, onions and garlic, added a little olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapped it in foil and cooked it on the grill. It was much to hot to turn the oven on and I like the taste of grilled vegetables. Or, just placing fresh corn or any other vegetable on the grill is tasty and poses no health risks.
However, it is important to be careful when grilling meat, poultry or seafood. When meat is grilled over an open flame, two hazardous chemicals are formed called HCA and PAH. HCAs form when amino acids in the meat’s protein and creatine found in the muscle of meat react to high cooking temperatures. PAHs form when fat and juice from the meat drip onto the fire, causing flames. It is these flames that contain PAHs which adhere to the meat’s surface. The exposure to HCAs and PAHs can increase your risk for a number of cancers, including stomach, esophagus, bladder, breast and prostate. Some data suggests that HCAs increase aging of your arteries. However, you can decrease HCAs by over 90 percent by marinating your meats for over 15 minutes. It seems that it doesn’t matter what marinade you are using, as long as it is not water or sugar based. Good marinade choices would be olive oil and vinegar. Also, you can reduce the amount of PAHs when grilling by grilling your meat on lower temperatures to avoid the flames from flaring up. While it’s probably okay to grill marinated fish and chicken once in a while, it’s not a good idea to eat grilled meats (even marinated) on a regular basis.