Love to Grill? Pass on the Carcinogens!

A client asked: “If I marinate chicken with skin and cook on grill with skin, but don’t eat skin – is that a lot worse for us that if I marinate without and cook without.  It is so much more tender to occasionally do with skin.”

Answer:

Please do marinate!

When meat and poultry is grilled, it becomes charred. That lovely black char, which seems to be inevitable when grilling, gives you a hefty dose of known carcinogens called, heterocyclic amines (HCA). Studies have shown that marinating before grilling can decrease HCA formation by up to 96 percent.

Cook with the skin, but remove before you eat it.

You are right. The skin keeps the poultry tender. Additionally, by cooking with the skin on, much of the HCA formation will take place on the skin, and so you can toss out those pesky carcinogens when you remove the skin before eating.

Here are some other tips to reduce HCA formation:

  • Turn the heat down and cook at a lower temperature.
  • Turn meat and poultry often.
  • Vegetables and fruit are delicious on the grill and no HCA formation occurs in plant-foods.

Vary your proteins.

Some of the strongest public health recommendations to limit red meat consumption come from the American Institute for Cancer Research. Here are the targets:

  • No more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. Red meat includes beef, lamb, pork and processed meats made from these.
  • Avoid processed meats, which are associated with colorectal cancer. Processed meats include ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages, which are red meats that have been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives.
  • The AICR based these recommendations from research done on human cancer risk related to consumption of conventionally-raised animal protein. However, if you are eating grass-fed meat and/or wild game the nutrient profile of these meats will be different and my recommendations for you, as an individual, may be different.

Photo Credit: From Whole Lifestyle Nutrition. I loved this picture! What a beautiful grilled meal. Is that an avocado on there? I’ve never grilled avocados. You know what I’ll be doing this weekend…recreating that beautiful colorful grilled meal.

Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.

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