Grilling is a healthy way to add fantastic, smoky flavor to your favorite foods – as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Keep It Clean

Leftover bits of food and grease on your grill, especially from animal proteins, contain carcinogens. The more they’re scorched by the heat, the more concentrated the cancer-causing agents become. Every time you grill, clean the surface thoroughly to remove leftover pieces, which can get transferred to your next meal.

Marinate with Alcohol and Acids

Using marinades containing alcohol or acidic juices has been shown to reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), two cancer-causing chemicals released when animal protein is cooked at a high temperature. Marinate beef, pork, fish or poultry in wine, beer, vinegar, pomegranate or citrus juice, such as lemon, to both add flavor and cut down on chemical formation.

Opt for Herbs

Adding powerful antioxidant herbs and seasonings to your marinade can also reduce harmful chemicals. Fresh rosemary, mint, basil, thyme and garlic all contain cancer fighters that can decrease the free radicals that are created when you grill your food. On the other hand, using marinades that contain sugar can actually increase your risk, so add those at the very end of your cooking time.

Think Thin

Grill thinner cuts of meat to reduce cooking time. The longer the meat sits on the grill, the greater the carcinogens, so grill meats until rare or medium-rare rather than well done, and avoid slow cooking meats for hours. If you still end up with charred portions of meat, trim them off. Also, it’s best to use lower-fat cuts of meat or trim off excess fat before grilling, as fat dripping down into the grill causes carcinogen-forming flare-ups and smoke.

Try a Finishing Touch

To avoid using the grill too much, and to reduce your exposure to carcinogens, try altering a recipe by only using the grill to get the grill marks we all love so much in the summer and finishing it off in the oven. You could also pre-cook something in the oven and finish it off on the grill.
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