Grilling any form of red meat, poultry or fish produces carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Grilling vegetables and fruit produces no HCAs or PAHs, thus posing no potential cancer risks. In fact, diets high in plant foods are associated with reduced risk of several cancers.
If you’re going to grill organic proteins today, follow these precautions from the American Institute for Cancer Research:
- Try a marinade. Some laboratory research suggests that even briefly marinating meat significantly reduces HCA formation.
- Select smaller cuts of meat, such as kabobs, and limit portion size.
- Select leaner cuts to prevent dripping fat from causing flare-ups, which deposit carcinogens on the meat.
- Reduce flare-ups by spreading aluminum foil on the grill. Make small holes in the foil to allow fat to drain.
- Partially precook meat briefly in the microwave before grilling to speed up grilling time.
- Flip meat frequently, which reduces the amount of carcinogens.
- Fill at least two-thirds of your plate with plant foods like salads, beans and grains. Leave a bit of room—one-third or less of plate space—for whichever protein you’ve cooked.