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Lifestyle Author: June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

A Lean Grill is a Smart Grill!

By June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist -
Jul 21, 2012 - 9:31:25 AM

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( - Summer is in full swing with many of us grilling our meals. Grilling is popular because it's easy, tastes good (I can almost smell it as I write) and fun to do (we women get to watch men do the cooking!). It's also a healthier choice because grilling is generally a lower fat cooking method than other methods such as sautéing and frying; great news for all of us. The bad news is that without a few smart precautions, grilling presents a potential long- term health hazard along with the short- term hazard of inhaling smoke. So, let's grill as a low fat cooking method, but let's also do it smartly for our health.

Okay, let's discuss how to grill our food as safely as possible because unfortunately, grilling meat particularly red meat carries with it a risk factor for cancer. Research points to a higher incidence of colon and prostate cancers in particular. In fact, a report on grilling from the AICR states, "diets high in red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and especially processed meats (such as hot dogs) are now a convincing cause of colorectal cancer". When we cook meat at high temperatures, it creates compounds called " Hetercyclic amines" (HCAs) and "Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons"(PAHs) . These compounds are powerful cancer-causing agents in animals, and research indicates that they are carcinogenic to us humans as well. They are formed when fat from the meat drips down on to the hot coals or any hot grill heating element, causing smoke to rise back on the food. These cancer causing compounds also form directly on the food when we char meat (it's tasty, so sorry for the bad news!).

"A diet high in grilled and barbequed meat cooked over an open flame or even pan fried may possibly increase our risk of stomach, colon and rectal cancers according to the "American Institute for Cancer Research"(a direct quote). So what can we do to have our grill and tasty food too?

To Grill Lean hence Smart, let's

Grill using a pan. This is safer than cooking any meat directly over an open flame (Note, this doesn't apply for veggies and fruits).

Not over-grill meats. Let's avoid grill flare ups and eating overly -charred meats (I know this is may the best part for some, but it's our health!).

Reduce the number of times per week we eat grilled meat. Grill meat almost every night in the summer? Let's try skipping a night or two. I also recommend going vegetarian at least one night per week, which is great for our health, waist, animals and the environment. It can serve as a great intro to a delicious healthy leaner grill and lifestyle!

Grill lean cuts of meat. We can also choose leaner cuts such as top round, tenderloin, flank steak, and white breast chicken cutlets when we do grill meat. Remember, no charring!

Marinate! Research shows that marinating our meats before grilling reduces the formation of HCA's when we use an oil free marinate (less calories, and less flare ups!). Let's add some herbs with antioxidant properties to the marinate to help protect against these cancer compounds. Based upon initial research a few potent helpful herbs, oregano, rosemary, garlic, and mustard seeds (please note dried herbs are not regulated for potency and fresh herbs are what I recommend) have been shown to reduce these toxic compounds that are formed.

Cut visible fat off meat. This will reduce those dangerous- to -our health flare-ups, which create the cancer causing compounds.

Eat more grilled fish than grilled red meat which results in less HCA's formed.

Eat more grilled veggies! Yes, "Go Mediterranean" by grilling veggies, because these dangerous compounds do not form when we grill vegetables or fruits. Veggies also have those wonderful cancer fighting phytochemicals protective to our health. We can bulk up our pasta dishes with grilled veggies including lightly grilled tomatoes, a great way to go vegetarian!

Let's grill up fruit . Grilled fruit can be just one healthy sweet choice for dessert when we serve it with a low fat frozen yogurt or ice-cream.

So, let's enjoy this low fat method of cooking, but let's just make it "A Lean Grill is a Smart Grill". And let's not forget, that just because we can't see these compounds, or because we don't have an immediate reaction to them, that they aren't dangerous to our health.

On a personal note I'd like to ask my readers who enjoy my tips to take a moment to go to I set this up to help save my little companion doggie. If you can, any small amount would be so much appreciated. And to thank you:

I will send the link to download my screensaver program "Focus on the Tools" available for PC users. It features rotating flashing tools from my weight loss program with beautifully photographed healthy salads in the background. There's even a calendar that shows the month and date! Reinforce healthy eating habits and stay motivated to change while at your computer!

Here's to "A Smart Grill is a Lean Grill"!

June M. Lay M.S. Go to:
Need some short term "eat -healthier" or "lose a few or more pounds" help? Contact me via reply to [email protected] for info on my new Telephonic Health & Weight Loss Coaching Program. Individual sessions available as well.

Source for more info: American Institute for Cancer Research.

June is Lifestyle Columnist at

Source for herbs include: Mosby's Handbook of Herbs & Natural Supplements, and Anti-proliferative and antioxidant properties of rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis in Oncol Rep. 2007 Jun;17(6):1525-31

copyright 2012, junefit. All rights reserved.


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