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Healthy Grilling With A Propane Grill

Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook, if it is done right.  By choosing foods that are low in fat, high in nutrients and full of flavor you can grill meals that not only taste wonderful but are actually good for you.  Whether you use a charcoal or propane grill, the use of marinades and fresh herbs will allow you to grill delicious, healthy foods.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about grilling and cancer; while the risk is real, there are some simple things you can do to greatly reduce the cancer risk.  Using marinades, especially those containing olive oil and/or citrus juices can not only add great flavor but reduce the formation of cancer causing substances on foods.  There are two primary substances that are known cancer causing agents, Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH); these chemicals are formed by putting food, primarily meat, in contact with intense heat or flame.  Grilling isn’t the only cooking method that causes these agents to form, and there is no reason to give up your grill.

Scientists at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage used in marinades reduced HCA formation dramatically.  Any of these herbs added to a marinade will not only give the grilled food a great, fresh flavor; but will reduce the free radicals formed when the meat hits the heat.

HCAs and PAHs are formed mostly from fat; either by the fat being exposed to extreme heat or by the smoke created by fat burning.  For the most part this applies to meat fats and not just the grease and fat from what you are cooking at the moment but the buildup on the bottom of the grill.  To reduce these risks you should keep your grill clean; a clean grill cooks better and is much safer in every way.  By keeping your grill clean you will avoid flare-ups that burn foods and increase HCA formation.  Trim excess fats from foods and use olive oil and/or citrus juice based marinades with any of the herbs mentioned above to add flavor and reduce HCA formation.  And finally, don’t overcook foods; the charred bits of foods are the largest sources of PAHs and HCAs, if there are charred bits, cut them off.

Following these simple tips will not only greatly reduce the risk of these cancer causing agents but also reduce the fat in the meats you grill.  Buying lean cuts of meat, using marinades for flavor and serving your grilled meats with fruits and vegetables will allow you to use your grill as a part of your healthy eating plan.