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Health(ier) Summer Grilling


By Melanie Peters   |   June 25, 2014

In June, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine released new nutrition guidelines for cancer prevention in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition. There were few surprises: drink less alcohol, eat more vegetables, and consume less red meat. One guideline, however, seemed to run counter to everything we love about summer eating: “Avoid grilled, fried and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.”

The reason for this recommendation has to do with heterocylic amines or HCAs. HCAs are found in cooked, especially charred and well-done, meats, and are known carcinogens that can contribute to the cancers listed above. But what’s summer without firing up the grill for backyard barbeques? Especially on hot days, when cooking outside on a grill is an excellent way to keep your house and your guests cool. 

Grilled corn

The good news is that there are ways to minimize your overall BBQ risk. If you are going to eat grilled (or fried or broiled) meat, keep it to a minimum. For red meat, the American Institute of Cancer Research recommends less than 18 ounces per week. Instead of grilling a beef steak, grill tuna or salmon because fish accumulates fewer HCAs.

Here are some ideas for a lower-risk, high-flavor summer meal right off the grill.

Grilled Corn Salad
Turn traditional corn on the cob into a savory summer salad that will please your taste buds and up your vegetable intake. (Check out “Corner Clinic” in this newsletter for why grilling veggies is a healthy alternative.)

Grilled Lemon-Sage Chicken
This dish not only helps cut your red meat intake, but the marinade of lemon juice and olive oil can also cut HCA accumulation.

Grilled Fruit Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing
Try this hot-off-the-grill take on a cool summer treat that uses the best of summer season fruit, like plums and pineapple.