How to Reduce Cancer Risks with Meat Preparation

Meat, pork, beef, and chicken are delicious. However, how it’s prepared or cooked may raise your cancer risk. Cooking meat such as beef, pork and fish at high temperatures can create a cancer-causing chemical called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Frying, broiling, and barbecuing produce the largest amounts of HCAs because the meats are cooked at very high temperatures. So, here’s a word of caution: avoid burning or high-temperature heating (e.g. oven > 350°F) of these meats for extended time.

meatNow you might be wondering, “But how do I cook delicious meats without producing any carcinogens?”

1. Prepare with extra time. For you barbecue chefs out there, trim the excess fat and remove the skin from any meat you are grilling, then marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes before grilling, because the marinade will serve as a coating or a barrier.

2. Practice carcinogen-free grilling techniques. Keep the gas jets low or wait until the charcoal turns into glowing coal before you start cooking. During grilling, turn the meat frequently to avoid charring, and control the flames of the grill and the grease that drips from the meat.

3. Scrape off any black parts!

4. Use other ways of cooking. The most common and easy one is using a conventional oven, where roasting or baking may be done at lower temperatures, thereby forming lower levels of HCAs.

5. Another alternative is the pressure cooker. Again it mainly uses steam based on a lower temperature, not only lowering carcinogen exposure, but also keeping the meat well-moist and tasty. Extra bonus: time-saving!

6. Then there’s the slow cooker. Stewing or boiling may be done at or below 212°F (100°C) which creates negligible amounts of cancer-causing chemicals.

7. Quick stir-fry, but not deep-fry. Because it’s done quickly, a lower level of the carcinogen is formed.

8. Add cancer-fighting ingredients or antioxidant-rich herbs as necessary seasoning. For example, use garlic, because it has a strong anti-microbial effect and potential cancer-fighting power. Plus it contains health-promoting antioxidants like flavonoids and can stimulate the immune system. Other antioxidant-rich herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme can be your smart choices too.

What other techniques do you use or can be added to the list?

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