Smoke and high temperatures can cause concerns, but there are some ways to make grilling healthy this summer.
Nothing marks the start of summer quite like the scent of barbecue wafting through your neighborhood. That savory, smoky aroma of grilled meats and vegetables is enough to make your mouth water and hanging out around a backyard grill is pure summer bliss. But if you stop and think about barbecuing—the smoke, the high temperatures, the gas or charcoal—you might start to wonder Is grilling bad for your health?
The health effects of grilled food are complicated. Obviously, a diet rich in cheeseburgers probably isn’t doing you many favors. But grilling (as a cooking method) comes with an array of potential health concerns you might want to be aware of before your next cookout. Here’s what you need to know about this beloved summer activity, as well as some tips on how to make grilling just a little bit healthier (without compromising flavor!).
First things first, we should address the question on so many people’s minds: Does grilling cause cancer?
There’s no other flavor quite like grilled meats. The act of tossing a hamburger or sausage on the grill and letting the open flame work its magic is what gives grilled food that unmistakable smoky–savory taste—but the chemical reaction that occurs during the process actually results in some gnarly toxins.
One study found that women who ate a lot of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats over their lives had a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer.
When muscle meat, like a juicy steak or pork chop, gets fired on the grill, chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in the food. HCAs form when amino acids and other substances in meat react with heat. PAHs, on the other hand, are found in the smoke from fat dripping into flames, which then adheres to the meat. Both of these types of chemicals can actually damage your