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  • Writer's pictureDr Gi Ming Chan

A Healthier Way of Grilling this Memorial Day Weekend

Did you know grilling can cause harm to your health?

Grilling, charring or burning meat and poultry over high temperatures can cause heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. When the fat from meat and poultry drips into the heat source, HCAs and PAHs form in the smoke, which then coats your food. Both HCAs and PAHs can contribute to DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Although the particles are formed in most types of grill, the greatest concentration of PAHs is generated when grilling over charcoal briquettes as compared to gas powered grill.

Here’s 8 ways to decrease HCAs and PAHs:

  1. Choose fish and more lean meats

  2. Lightly oil the grill to keep charred materials from sticking to your food

  3. Cook under lower temperature

  4. Cut Down on Grilling Time. Pre-cook meat and poultry in the oven and/or grill smaller portions of meat, poultry, and fish such as in a skewer so they cook faster and spend less time on the grill.

  5. Clean the grill: scrub the grill after each use to prevent chemical built up

  6. Marinating meat in vinegar, lemon juice and herbs such as mint, rosemary, tarragon or sage. The simple act of marinating before grilling has been shown to reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 92% to 99% in some studies.

  7. Trim the fat

  8. Grill Fruits and Vegetables such as zucchini, mushroom, peppers, pineapple, etc. Grilled fruits and vegetables don’t form PAHs and HCAs, and they’re great antioxidants to go with your meat.


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