There has been a huge confusion in air regarding ‘Is consumption of tandoori, grilled, roasted red meat safe of carcinogenic?’ Here I am trying to give you some clarity on this topic.
Heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are chemicals formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures over an open flame, according to the National Cancer Institute. HCAs form when the amino acids, sugars and creatine in meat react at high temperatures, while PAHs form when fat and juices from meat grilled over an open flame drip onto the fire, resulting in PAH-containing flames that adhere to the surface of meat. HCAs & PAHs increase the risk factor for cancer.
Three groups of foods can form cancer-causing chemicals when grilled and blackened:
· all meats such as beef, lamb and pork
· poultry such as chicken and turkey
· fish and shellfish
What to do to keep your family safe?
The safest thing to do is to give up grilling, frying, cooking at high temperatures, and overcooked and well-done meats
· Cook with less intense heat and lower temperatures with all cooking methods
· Use hardwood chips from hickory and maple which burn cooler than softwoods such as pine and fir
· Use charcoal briquettes, which burn at lower temperatures
· Be sure to oil your grill to keep food from sticking
· Keep your grill clean
· Scrape off all the charred residue every time you cook so that you don't transfer carcinogenic chemicals to your food the next time you use it
· Avoid well-done meats
· Avoid the blackened and charred areas
· Use lower temperatures on the grill
· Use thinner cuts, which cook quickly
· Flip the filets before they are charred
· Trim the fat before cooking
· Use leaner cuts
· Remove the skin from chicken and salmon
· Defrost all meat before grilling
· Cut meats up into cubes, which cook very quickly
· Don't cook directly over coals, move them to the side
· Keep the grill rack farther away from the food rather then right on top of the coals
· Avoid having flames come in contact with the food
· Use a drip rack to catch the fat
· Remove food from the grill as soon as it is cooked
· Don't put cooked food back onto plates used for raw meat, poultry or fish due to bacteria
Use Alternate Cooking Methods
· Bake (but do not overcook)
· Cook with liquid: boil, steam, poach, stew
· Slow-cook food at low temperatures in the oven so that it is thoroughly cooked and moist and then put it on the grill briefly to just sear it.
· Marinated foods produce less HCAs and PAHs when cooked. Some research shows that marinating your meats not only makes them taste better, but also reduces the production of carcinogens.
· Marinades include olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cooking wine, herbs and spices
· Remember that extra marinade that you may want to use as sauce must be heated thoroughly for at least three minutes before serving over cooked food to kill any bacteria present from being in contact with uncooked meat, poultry or fish.
· Always marinate food in the refrigerator to keep levels of bacteria low.
So moderate consumption of grilled and tandoors and roasted red meat reduces the risk of Cancer in future. Thus chose nutritious food to savour your taste buds and to stay healthy. For all such solutions to your health related confusions feel free to contact me in my e-clinic.
~Dt. Deepalekha Banerjee