Summer is all about longer days, outside weather, and celebrating all of the above! BBQ anyone? At Virginia Cancer Specialists, we want to support all our patients, and families, in cooking practices that are 1) enjoyable; and 2) coincide with recommendations to reduce cancer risk.
Grilling is a hot topic when it comes to cancer. And here’s the rub—Americans love to grill. According to Statista, the most common reason to grill is good weather. The most popular holiday to grill is 4th of July. The most common item to grill is meat—in fact, only about 1% of grill owners do not eat meat.
But, some grilling practices have been associated with risk of cancer. One reason is that this form of cooking can generate carcinogens such as PAHs (or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from the fire and HCAs (or heterocyclic amines) as a result of high heat and these are associated with grilling meat. Strategies to decrease risk include cutting down on exposure of meat to carcinogens on the grill and reducing the amount of grilled meat eaten. Here are our top tips for safer summer grilling:
- Moderate how much red meat (beef, lamb, pork) you eat—the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends no more than 18 ounces today per week.
- Get creative when it comes to grilling non-meat items—think veggie kabobs, grilled pizza.
- Prep and relax—preparatory actions such as marinating and pre-cooking meat prior to placing on the grill can cut down on carcinogens produced while grilling.
- Cook smaller cuts of meat to decrease cooking time.
- Trim the fat—not only are leaner cuts good for your heart, but they can also prevent charring and dripping while cooking. Clean the grill regularly as well.
And then, one final thing—enjoy!
Learn More about Nutrition Here
Virginia Cancer Specialists Nutrition Team