There has been a lot of local and national news coverage recently about the health concerns associated with the consumption of red meat. Around this time every year, written articles also begin to appear about the health risks associated with both red and processed meats; beef, lamb, pork, sausages, including hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), has also recently published it’s annual concerns and findings. But this year, they have a very important findings update which involves our upcoming grilling season.
According to the ACIR, a recent report on diet and cancer has concluded that a diet which includes large, grilled amounts of both red and processed meat, elevates the risk of, and is a contributor to, colorectal cancer. A significant problem is what takes place chemically during the grilling of these meats. The grilling process releases heterocyclic amines (HCA’s), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), both carcinogens, which have been found to actually begin the cancer development process in laboratory testing.
The ACIR recommends that when selecting meat for grilling, choose lean cuts. Fat that drips into your heat source and causes a flare-up, releases and deposits these carcinogens into the meat. Cover your grilling surface with aluminum foil that has been punctured to allow fats to drain, but not flare up. Marinades have shown to be a good reducer of of the carcinogen’s formation, as does the frequent flipping of the meat. Another good way to minimize risks is to partially pre-cook your meats in the microwave before finishing them on the grill. This will shorten the amount of time that the meat is on the grill, but will allow everyone to enjoy both the fun of grilling and it’s wonderful flavors.
Finally, the ACIR recommends that 2/3 of your picnic plate should be filled with salads, vegetables or other plant based foods. Not only will you have a delicious meal, but you, your family and friends will be enjoying a really healthy one.