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When meat is cooked under high temperatures, the amino acids react with creatine in muscles to create heterocyclic amines. This is the problem with boiling, frying, and grilling meat. But grilling meat has another problem, the smoke from flare-ups. But then again, you are always advised to choose grilled meat over fried meat to avoid dripping grease and butter coating.
How can You Make Your Grilled Food Healthier?
When grilling, you need to avoid very high temperatures as much as possible to reduce the reaction between creatine and amino acids. Again, you need to minimize flare-ups that result in smoke and charring of the meat or grilled food. Lastly, reduce the time it takes to grill by cutting food to be cooked into thin strips or pieces. And a bonus tip, get a good quality grill to reduce smoke and fasten the grilling process.
Grill Fruits and Vegetables
It is safe to grill fruits and vegetables. Unlike in meat, which has proteins and fat, fruits and vegetables do not produce heterocyclic amines (HCAs – from amino acids) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs – from fats and smoke). When you grill fruits and vegetables to go with grilled meat, you get antioxidants that might protect you from free radicals that are thought to cause cancer. Fruits have a lot more benefits in the body, including reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, and some types of cancer.
Some fruits to grill include tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, endive, mango, pear, apple, pineapple, zucchini, and eggplant. Grilled fruits and vegetables taste great.
Only Grill Lean Meat
One way to reduce PAHs is to ensure that fat does not drip from the meat to the grill or fire. When fat drips, it causes flare-ups that take to bring back PAHs to the meat. Before grilling, cut out visible fat and skin from the meat. When you start will lean cuts of pork, beef, or lamb, you are off to a healthy start.
Marinate Before Grilling
Marinating makes your grilled meat taste fantastic, but that is not all the benefits. When you marinate, you reduce the formation of HCAs by up to 99% making your grilled meat healthier. You can marinate with wine, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, honey, low-sodium soy sauce, onions, spices, and herbs, among others.
When choosing the marinade to use, pick a fat-free or low-fat marinade to reduce fat drips and flare-ups. Again, because you cannot be sure of the ingredients of the marinade you choose, make your marinades at home. When grilling, avoid basting with the same liquid you used to marinate as you will pass raw meat juices on your cooked meat. Before you put your meat in the marinating liquid, set aside a little marinade for basting. Marinate fruits and vegetables for an hour and meats and poultry for up to two hours.
Grill for a Short Time
The longer the food stays on the grill, the more HCAs and PAHs are formed. As such, you need to cut meat and food to be grilled into thin pieces for faster cooking. Even better, you can precook the meat, fish, and poultry in a microwave or oven and then take a short time on the grill. Before the food starts producing flare-ups and burning, it should be ready to eat and out of the grill.
Keep Turning the Food
When you keep turning food on the grill, you reduce the chances of HCAs formation. HCAs are formed when meats are exposed to very high temperatures – to ensure that does not happen, do not expose one side of your cuts to very high temperatures for long. When flipping the food, use a spatula or tongs instead of a fork, which might pierce the meat and cause the juices to drip.
Besides observing the points above, you need to ensure cleanliness when handling grilled food. While you do not need to clean meat before grilling, everything else needs to be spotlessly clean. Start by cleaning the grill to remove any grime from the last grilling. The dirt that sticks on the grill is caused by the fat that drips, and that fat might still have PAHs. Again, clean your hands thoroughly and use a clean tray to hold cooked food.
Also read about Does Eating Grilled Food Cause Cancer?