Summer food is so great, with so many fresh vegetables available and so many great recipes to make! And if it’s summer, then it means that the barbecue will be your main cooker for the season. It can cook meat, veggies, and toast some yummy bread.
But nutritionists warn us that the grill can transform our food into a health hazard. Jessica Begg is a registered dietitian and also the founder of Shift Nutrition (Calgary), saying that:
“We know that charring meat is dangerous and can increase cancer risk.”
She continues explaining that red meat and a layer of char are both carcinogenic. When the protein and fat inside the meat are cooked at high temperature for some time, they will develop chemicals called heterocyclic amines. These chemicals alter DNA and can lead to cancer.
Veggies don’t pose this problem, but it’s all different if you pour oil on them, said Begg:
“If you’re burning oil, whether that’s on a pan or a grill, the smoke will stick to the food and that’s a carcinogenic agent.”
Researchers warn on advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Foods that are cooked at high hear proliferate AGEs and leads to inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dry heat promotes formation of AGE, increasing it from 10 to 100 compared to uncooked foods, says a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
However, only animal-based products are high in AGE.
The good news is that AGE production can be reduced by adding an acidic element – lemon juice or vinegar and cooking with moist heat, at lower temperatures and shorter times.
Marinade Your Veggies and Lose the Oil
A study published in the journal Food Chemistry shows that grape seed and rosemary extract can inhibit heterocyclic amines formation. This means that you can marinade your veggies with rosemary, lemon juice and vinegar to make a healthy food.
Begg recommends to eat veggies when they’re fresh, as they’ll degrade over time and lose some of the nutrients. She adds:
“Some vegetables actually do better when they’re cooked because they’re easier to digest and we therefore digest their nutrients better.”
Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, spinach and tomatoes are more nutritious when cooked.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere