Over the last decade or so with health becoming a major concern more and more people are questioning the nutritional value of home barbecuing. Mostly these concerns are about fat content of such things as hamburgers, hot dogs and other traditional barbecued foods.
Studies have shown that these concerns have some merit! However, studies have also shown that if we change or modify traditional barbecue foods for such things as fish and skinless chicken we can lower the fat content of barbecued food making it much healthier.
Animal meats that are cooked in the intense heat of the barbecue can cause substance to form on the meat that are called carcinogens. Carcinogens are known to be substances that can start the development of cancer and more care should be taken when barbecuing with these types of meats. The chard black burnt meat is particularly concentrated in cancer causing substances.
These substances have also been shown to develop on animal meat regardless of whether it has low fat content or high fat content or it is red or white meat. When red or white meat is cooked under intense heat the meat produces compounds called (Heterocyclic Amine’s) otherwise known as (HCAs).
These (HCAs) have been linked through some animal studies to increase the risk of cancer. Studies made by the National Cancer Institute on rodents have shown that rodents eating more heavily browned meat or over cooked and burnt meat are more susceptible to breast, colon and stomach cancer. However, there is no proof that this is the case for humans but it is something worth thinking about!
There is some good news too that should also be understood. Research shows that doing things a certain way will dilute the amount of (HCAs) by a large margin. Marinating meat or poultry before cooking can reduce this down by around 95% and if you partially cook meat for a couple of minutes in a microwave just before grilling on the barbecue can also reduce the (HCAs) by 90% or so.
The carcinogens caused by smoke is yet another concern that should be taken note of, but these can be limited by choosing leaner meats and cutting away any excess fat that could potentially drip on to the coals and cause smoke. Raising the grill higher and further away from the heat is also suggested as this also cuts down the chance of smoke contaminating the cooking meat.
Eating fruit and vegetables with your barbecued meat can also help as these tend to be high in antioxidants that have a blocking agent that help stop the (HCAs) doing damage to the cells, soy foods are also known to contain the same blocking agent.
Tea can increase the body’s ability to detoxify (HCAs) as studies from Oregon State University have demonstrated.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommend that meals containing animal protein like meat, poultry and seafood should cover no more than one 3rd of your plate if it is grilled. This will help limit the exposure to (HCAs) and other carcinogens.
Health promoting fruits, vegetables and whole grains produce loads of cancer fighting nutrients and are seen as the ideal food stuffs to enhance a good healthy barbecued meal.