5 Tips to Help Keep Summer Grilling Healthy
For many Americans, nothing says summer quite like steaks, hot dogs, and burgers right off the grill. However, along with warm weather cookouts come some potential health risks associated with grilling meat. By following these five tips as you fire up the grill, you can “have your steak and eat it too.”
Grilling and Carcinogens
According to the National Cancer Institute, grilling meat at high temperatures forms carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that may increase the risk for certain cancers. But don’t hang up your barbecue apron. Learn how to enjoy summertime grilling in a healthier way.
Tips for Healthier Grilling
You may be surprised to how easy it is to enjoy your summer favorites.
Marinate before grilling. The meat will stay moist and will not form as many of the HCAs. Try a citrus marinade—the vitamin C in citrus is an antioxidant that helps protect your body from damage.
Flip your meat every minute or so. Flipping meat keeps the surface of the meat from getting too hot or scorched.
Go lean. Not only will it be better for your heart, it can also help lessen the dripping of fat that can lead to the grill flare-ups that can cause charring.
Try a substitute. Grilling chicken and fish is safer since it produces less of the compounds that cause cancer. These meats are also lower in saturated fat.
Skip the Meat
Better yet, try swapping in a veggie burger, grilled portabella mushroom, or other healthy recipes with veggies and forgoing the meat altogether. Increasing your intake of plant foods is a great way to increase your intake of fiber and important nutrients and can help lower your risk for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Bottom line: Like so many things, it's all about moderation and sustainability. Consider limiting your consumption of grilled meats to once a week or less and enjoy the summer season in both a delicious and healthy way.
Janelle Glick, MA, RD, LDN
Janelle Glick, MA, RD, LDN, is a wellness dietitian with Lancaster General Health Corporate Wellness.
Education: Janelle Glick holds a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Messiah College and a M.A. in Nutrition Education from Immaculata University. Her special areas of interest include weight management and health coaching.