Is Grilling Meat A Healthier Alternative To Cooking?

Is Grilling Meat A Healthier Alternative To Cooking?

Grilled meat in a family gathering is one of the most commonly served and preferred foods. Grilling at home in warm weather especially at the beginning of spring is almost like a tradition followed by many families across the United States.

In accordance with the studies, grilled meat or veggies are one of the safest and healthiest meals. Many celebrities and fitness bloggers also like to have different grilled versions of meat like fish or chicken breast either for lunch or dinner as it is also less in calories.

Most of the people follow the same grilling recipes and enjoy their healthy food at different events and gatherings or just everyday life. No doubt you can find many good grilling recipes online but there are still some concerns with grilling.

RELATED: Can Eating Red and Processed Meats Cause Cancer?


Is grilling as safe as it is made to be?

Typically, grilling does not pose any threats to the health but this is only possible if it is done in the right way. Nowadays, many people make a number of mistakes that increase some of the very dangerous health risks such as exposure to toxic compounds.

The biggest concern with grilling is that some mistakes can lead to increased exposure to compounds that have been linked to cancer such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) which tend to form in the muscles of the meat in processes that include high temperatures like grilling.

Heterocyclic amines are linked to most of the cases of colon, stomach and colorectal cancers. More recently, they have been seen to cause other health issues such as DNA damage and increase the risk of other types of cancers such as skin, liver, breast, prostate, and lung cancer as well.

Is Grilling Meat A Healthier Alternative To Cooking?
Image By Cancer Treatment Centers Of America

So, what should you do, then?

Grilling is not dangerous if you follow the proper way of doing it and avoid the common and subtle mistakes that can later be the reason for major health problems. You may be surprised to find out that some of the things you have been doing while grilling could damage your health.

Usually, marinating the meat before grilling is highly recommended as it can drastically cut the risk of all the types of cancer by reducing the cancer-causing compounds in the meat when it is done in the right way.

However, if you choose to marinate the meat using store-bought marinades, you can make your grilled meat unhealthy rather than safe as some of the ingredients in those marinades such as high-fructose corn syrup are dangerous.

Using store-bought marinades which contain a high amount of sugar and ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup increases the chances of charring which can potentially lead to exposure to high levels of carcinogens.

Instead of buying marinades from the market, try using marinades that are rich in herbs and spices which can reduce the carcinogenic compounds such as HCAs.

In accordance with Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, marinade having garlic and turmeric reduced HCAs by 50% while the teriyaki marinade caused a 67% reduction in the cancerous HCAs. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that marinating correctly can decrease HCAs by 96%.

Read more on different marinades and their effect on HCAs here. 

In addition, the Institute also recommends pre-cooking along with marinating the meat before grilling. Pre-cooking reduces the drippings on the grill. These drippings usually turn into smoke containing cancerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

What others things should you keep in mind?

Along with keeping the marinating and pre-cooking tip in mind, it might also be a good idea to make sure that the meat you are planning to grill is also safe and organic. Factory-farmed meat has been seen to contain some harmful medications.

In accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection, medicines such as ivermectin, flunixin, ciprofloxacin, penicillin, and other drugs are commonly present in inorganic meats.

Heating these medications at high temperatures does not necessarily neutralize them. In fact, some of these may even become more toxic and cause allergic reactions, neurological, abnormal thyroid hormones levels, and kidney problems.

If you are choosing to grill meat, go for grass-fed or organic meats and make sure they come from a trustworthy source. Also, make sure the accessories you use are safe and healthy.

Many people tend to choose nonstick grills and other cookware and they are easier to clean and do not make such a big mess comparatively. However, perfluorooctanoic and related compounds in these nonstick accessories can be problematic to the health.

Is Grilling Meat A Healthier Alternative To Cooking?
Image By

Similarly, avoid using aluminum even though grilling fish or potatoes wrapped in foil might be easier. A study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Sciences showed that aluminum foil caused leaching in levels unacceptable by the WHO.

Following all the tips that are mentioned above, you can have safe grilled meat or veggies and enjoy them with your family and friends.



With an academic background in Food Sciences, Klaire is interested to read about the latest news on nutrition, therapeutic benefits of foods and health. She is a practicing dietician with a focus on improving women’s health. Before joining the team, she has worked as a researcher and freelance writer.

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