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Is Grilling Bad For You?

In the northern hemisphere, it's getting to be grilling season again. Before you get too excited, though, there are a few things you should know.

Slightly charred corn cobs sitting on a grill

Photo: Mike (flickr)

Even an otherwise healthy veggie can be tainted with dangerous compounds if you're cooking meat too.

While you may be aware that many popular grilled foods like hot dogs aren’t the healthiest things you can eat, you may not know that grilling itself can produce carcinogens. Thankfully, however, there are some things you can do to prevent this.

There are two sources of carcinogens when you grill. One is heat itself. Meats like beef, chicken and fish contain proteins that, when heated at high temperatures, form compounds linked to cancer of the colon, breasts and prostate. Thus, one thing you can do to prevent the formation of these carcinogens is to turn down the heat. Cook meat at a lower temperature, cut it into uniform pieces, and turn it often.

The other source of carcinogens from grilling is smoke from burning fat. When fat drips from the meat into an open flame, the fire flares up and produces a dark colored smoke. This smoke comes into contact with the meat and renders it carcinogenic. A pan or some foil to catch the fat drippings can help prevent this kind of carcinogen from forming.

Read More:

  • Cooking Up Cancer? (Slate)
  • How To Make Grilling Safer (CNN)

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