Who doesn’t love a good BBQ? For some reason just about everything cooked on a grill is delicious – it adds a new level of flavor!
The dark side of barbecue is that the high heat (usually over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) and direct flame on the food produces carcinogens (cancer causing compounds) in the form of Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs). As the temperature increases, so does the formation of HCA. What does your barbecue have in common with cigarettes? HCAs are found in cigarette smoke. More HCAs are formed with longer exposure to high heat. Pre-cook meat such as chicken thighs indoors prior to placing them on the grill. This will limit the time spent on the grill, but it will still taste great in the end.
Keep in mind that the smoke coming from your barbecue can also be carcinogenic. The smoke produced can contain Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Flar-ups are not only a burn hazard, they also hurt your lungs and food. The smoke sticks to both and the expanded fire usually comes in contact with your food for a char effect. Char is carcinogenic. Char also increases inflammation. Grill marks look nice, but they aren’t good for your health.
If you decide to cook marshmallows, do not put them into the open flame. The sugar alone isn’t good for you (sugar feeds cancer and some studies indicate it can cause cancer), you are doubling down by eating burned pieces. Burned pieces of food are also carcinogenic.
If you watch some cooking shows as I occasionally do, you will see them using aluminum as a helpful tool on the grill. Unfortunately, aluminum can leach into the food when in direct contact and can cause dementia. It is best to avoid it with foods like potatoes and fish pouches.
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