- Choose meats wisely. Avoid grilling high-fat meats, like ribs and sausages. Instead, choose lean meats, which create less dripping and less smoke. Always trim excess fat and remove skin. It‘s also a good idea to choose smaller cuts of meat, such as kabobs, which require less cooking time.
- Try thin marinades. Thicker marinades tend to char, which could increase exposure to cancer-causing agents. Choose marinades made with vinegar or lemon, which will form a protective layer on the meat.
- Reduce grilling time. Always thaw meat before cooking. Meat and fish also should be partially cooked in the microwave before grilling. This will reduce cooking time and the risk for smoke flare-ups.
- Flip often. Flipping burgers once every minute will help prevent burning or charring.
- Consider food placement. Be sure to place food at least six inches away from a heat source.
- Create a barrier. Do not allow juices to spill and produce harmful smoke. Line the grill with aluminum foil or cook on cedar planks.
- Consider veggies. Try grilling your favorite vegetables since they do not contain the protein that forms harmful HCAs. "People are surprised, but you can safely eat charred vegetables," Kennedy said. "They have different proteins that are not affected the same way as the meat protein.
Monday, June 10, 2013
For many Americans, summer just wouldn‘t be the same without a backyard barbecue. However, the blackened meats and smoky flavor that come with grilling could put your health at risk, experts caution.
The good news, though, is that by planning ahead and making some smart choices, you can enjoy summer barbecues and reduce your exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
High-heat grilling can convert proteins found in red meat, pork, poultry and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These chemicals have been linked to breast, stomach, prostate and colon cancer.
"What happens is that the high temperature can change the shape of the protein structure in the meat so it becomes irritating in the body and is considered a carcinogenic chemical," Stacy Kennedy, a nutritionist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in an institute news release.
Another cancer-causing agent, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is found in the smoke from the barbeque. PAHs form when fat and juices from meat cooking on the grill drip down onto the heat source.
"That‘s where the main cancer-causing compound occurs in grilling," Kennedy said. "So you want to reduce the exposure to that smoke."
For those who plan to fire up the grill this summer, Kennedy offered the following tips to reduce exposure to cancer-causing agents:
Despite the risks, Kennedy said, barbecue enthusiasts should keep things in perspective. "If you‘re grilling and following the proper safety tips, the risk of getting cancer from grilling food is very low," she said. "Being overweight or obese, which are at epidemic levels in the U.S., are far greater risk factors for developing cancer than the consumption of grilled foods."
Obese teens don‘t need to lose large amounts of weight to lower their risk of developing diabetes, according to a new study.
Researchers found that obese teens who reduced their body-mass index (BMI) by 8 percent or more had improvements in insulin sensitivity, a measure of how well the body processes insulin and an important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.
"This threshold effect that occurs at 8 percent suggests that obese adolescents don‘t need to lose enormous amounts of weight to achieve improvements," study co-author Dr. Lorraine Levitt Katz, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Diabetes Center for Children at the Children‘s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a hospital news release.
"The improvements in insulin sensitivity occurred after four months of participating in a lifestyle-modification program," Katz said.
The study included 113 teens, aged 13 to 17, whose average BMI at the start of the study was 37.1. People with a BMI of 35 to 40 are classified as severely obese. None of the teens had type 2 diabetes at the start of the study, but their obesity placed them at high risk to develop the disease in the future.
The teens were put on a weight-loss program that used family-based lifestyle changes. They and their parents were taught about healthy eating habits and encouraged to increase their levels of physical activity. The teens and their parents attended weekly group counseling sessions and the parents were encouraged to support their children‘s lifestyle changes and to be healthy-lifestyle role models.
The study, published online May 24 in the Journal of Pediatrics, reinforces the importance of lifestyle changes in helping teens lose weight, the researchers said.
They also noted that the 8 percent reduction in BMI needed to improve insulin sensitivity is "achievable" and easy for doctors to track.