Everyone in the health science world is talking about it… Grilling meat may cause cancer!
Grilling meat may cause cancer? Sounds like every South African’s worst nightmare. No more BRAAI!
Is it true?
Well, grilling meat does produce some chemicals in the food which may increase your risk of cancer. Here are 5 ways to minimize the risk while still enjoying the BRAAI:
1. Choose your meat wisely
Processed meats like store-bought burgers and sausages with long ingredient lists are much more closely linked with cancer than whole meats like steaks, chops and chicken pieces.
If you like burgers, make your own from mince-meat and if you like sausages buy them from a traditional butcher who can tell you what’s inside.
Also, go for leaner cuts of meat as fat dripping onto the grill is one of the main causes of carcinogen formation.
2. Season your meat
But don’t use store-bought meat seasoning – these can contain more chemicals than real food… Use fresh herbs and spices. These can lower the levels of carcinogens in grilled meat by up to 94%.
The most powerful ones are mint, onion powder, turmeric, fresh garlic and rosemary.
3. Marinate your meat
Marinating your meat in a home-made marinade can decrease certain carcinogens by as much as 99%! Use either an acid-based marinade – think wine, vinegar, lemon juice etc – or a dark beer and soak the meat overnight for best results.
4. Don’t use bbq sauce!
Yes, BBQ sauce is a marinade. However the sugar in the sauce will burn and char onto the meat and can INCREASE the carcinogen levels in the meat by 290%!
If you must use a sweet sauce, put it on after cooking.
5. Well-done is not good
Cook meat at medium temperatures and DO NOT cook it to death.
Medium-rare is the way to go. Meat that is over-cooked or burnt is the highest in cancer-causing chemicals – a well-done steak has 3.5 times more carcinogens than a medium-rare steak.