Barbecues are often associated with parties or gatherings at the backyard with the smell of smoked meat in the air. There is no denying that barbecued food is one of the tastiest foods, but the taste comes at the price of your health.
Recent studies have found that smoked or barbecued food may be more hazardous they are thought of. However, there are some tips you can follow to enjoy your barbecue and lower its health risks as much as possible.
The root cause of health risks associated with barbecued food is the meat. Recent research has found that poultry, red meat, lamb, pork, and fish can emit two carcinogenic substances when they are barbecued.
The first cancerous substance is heterocyclic amine, which are deemed reasonable carcinogenic by the National Institute of Health. Heterocyclic amines or HCAs are produced when the meat is overcooked or char-grilled over high temperatures. Studies with rodents have shown that those rodents with HCA contracted diseases cancer in multiple organs later, including the colon, prostate, and breast. The effect on humans is still being researched.
The second cancerous substance is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, abbreviated as PAH. PAHs are carried onto the food through the smoke that forms when fat from the meat drips onto the hot charcoal. PAH is directly formed on the food when it is char-grilled.
Both of these cancerous substances can be avoided if you follow a healthy barbecuing recipe. The following tips will help you prepare a healthy barbecue meal:
Cook at the right temperature
Overcooked or precooked food should be avoided, and you should keep the temperature of the grille just right. You should also avoid any step in the preparation process that might increase the cooking time of the food. A good practice to follow is to flip the meat frequently and to keep the grille at a low temperature. You can also buy thinner slices of meat so that they cook at lower temperatures and in a shorter time. Before you begin the barbecue, you should try to measure the temperature and see that it matches the USDA-recommended minimum temperatures mentioned below (all temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit):
• Chicken breast and whole poultry: 165
• Pork and ground beef: 160
• Steaks, roasts, and fish: 145
Choose lean meat
In order to prevent PAH, you should trim as much fat from the meat as you can before cooking it. This will be much easier if you choose lean meat cuts. While cooking the meat, flip it frequently to avoid the fat from dripping down and avoid stabbing the meat.
Recent studies have found that some meat marinating ingredients, like vinegar, may be helpful in preventing the two cancerous substances from forming. One study found that beef marinated with teriyaki sauce had 67 percent less HCA than the steak without the marinade.
According to a research report published by Harvard, when meat is cooked at high temperatures, amino acids react with creatine to form heterocyclic amines, this is thought to be the driver that causes cancer. That’s why cooking meat by grilling, frying, or broiling becomes a health problem. Grilling is double trouble because it also exposes meat to cancer-causing chemicals contained in the smoke that rises from burning coals.
Chef Lim Zhi Yuan is a celebrity chef who has more than 40 years of culinary experience around Asia. Prior to joining Asian Food Recipes from Asia
, Chef Lim Zhi Yuan helmed numerous prestigious hotels and restaurants, including the Hilton and Banyan Tree. He is also a Master Chef contributor on Asia's largest Cooking Asian Recipe
website - AsiaFoodRecipe.com