By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
hen you char, burn, grill or barbecue any form of red meat (steaks), hot dogs, white meat as in chicken, or deep frying at high temperatures in your griller, or cooking at high temperatures for a long time (high heat cooking), results in a poisonous chemical called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
These amines can damage an individual’s genes, raising the risk and incidence of stomach and colo-rectal cancers.
It is advisable to pre-cook these foods in the microwave or oven for about 5 minutes, and then grill. Use very little cooking oil in grilling. Less grilling time means less chance to exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, as mentioned before.
The grills need to be scrubbed and cleaned after each use to prevent harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your food.
Marinading meat with vinegar, lemon juice and herbs like mint, rosemary or sage for a few hours, seem to reduce HCA formation as much as 96%
Grilled foods healthier choice
Grilling appears better and tastes fantastic, but for health reasons there are rules to follow in the grilling methods. After all, yummy charring that forms on red meat and poultry after prolonged grilling can form PAH (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and tempting to eat more.
Avoid processed meats
Limit red meat
Trim the fat
Add fruits and Veggies
PAHs and HCAs don’t form on grilled fruits and veggies, but provide antioxidants in the same meal.
According to the experts at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre says that small changes as referred before to what and how-you grill can keep cancer off the menu.
Instead of grilling deep frying in vegetable oils seems to be popular, which brings in its health problems, too. Eating deep fried food was associated with breast cancer risk among women, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer and so on, which most people are not aware of. Television cookery demonstrations are full of such methods of cooking. It is generally accepted fried foods are ‘rice pullers’ and much tastier than steam cooking. Fried dry fish is included in most rice packets sold along the streets in Colombo. Chinese are smarter by stir frying foods with deep heat for just a few minutes.
It is much healthier to cook your food as in curries, with water, coconut milk and spices as in cooked greens, beans, legumes, cabbage, sweet potatoes to reduce incidence of breast and other cancers.
Conclusions: Grilling meats and fish on high heat should be avoided. Deep frying also has its risks. Cooking in boiling water with coconut creams and spices would be the way to go.
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