Every man loves a good old barbecue during the warmer months. Correction: During any month, really.
With the prospect of more grills and smokers getting fired up this season thanks to the recent resurgence of the ‘low and slow’ BBQ movement, the yearning for flavoursome cuts of meat which inhibit a distinct smokey flavour has never been higher. Lest we forget, barbecuing is a form of cooking which can potentially increase the risk of some cancers.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) in 2016 found that stomach cancers were linked to a high percentage of body fat, high alcohol intake and high consumption of processed meats. Tailing that research also comes with a startling new suggestion that grilled or barbecued meats could also be a risky health choice.
The reason behind this is that meat cooked at high temperatures (such as grilling) can bring on the formation of substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). It is these two chemicals which the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute are deeming to be carcinogenic along with other studies which have also documented this link.
The 2016 study found that, “Smoking or charring meat also contributes to the formation of PAHs,” according to AICR’s head of nutrition Alice Bender. Those reeling over this finding don’t need to throw out their smoked briskets and ribs just yet though. There are ways to reduce the occurrence of PAHs and HCAs and it all comes down to reducing the amount of time your meat stays on a high temperature.
The AICR recommends that the barbecuing collective should instead follow these guidelines:
- Marinading your meat, which has been linked to less HCA formation during the cooking process
- Pre-cooking in the oven or stovetop first before exposing it to flames of the grill
- Going lean to avoid charring and flare-ups that occur as the fire burns up fat
- Mixing in veggies with smaller cuts of meat for a shorter cooking time
- Sticking to grilling fruits and vegetables (those don’t produce HCAs)
[via Business Insider]