It depends on what you’re cooking, and how long you cook it for. That’s because when meats are cooked until charred, new chemical compounds form. These chemicals, which include benzopyrene, are called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and consumption of these are associated with a higher incidence of cancer. But there are several ways to make barbecuing a safer choice:

1.​Throw away the barbecue sauce. Most of these prepared sauces have sugar as one of their top ingredients! Sugar will make your food burn faster, creating more of the cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons​ (PAHs)​. It will also add calories to your meal and pounds to your waistline! There are plenty of herb and spice mixes that will enhance the flavour of your meats and vegetables, and they are naturally calorie-free.​

2. Marinate your meats in acids.   Make fresh lemon or lime juice an ingredient in your marinades. This will tenderize the meat, and may prevent the formation of the carcinogens associated with blackened meat.

3.  ​Cook your meat only until it is medium to medium-rare.  In one study, women who ate well-done meats as opposed to rare or medium-rare meats had a higher incidence of breast cancer! (Note: ground meat should always be cooked until brown throughout.) 

4. ​Cook your vegetables separately, such as on skewers, so that they don’t get overcooked or charred.  This will keep the more heat-sensitive nutrients, like vitamin C, intact.

Happy barbecuing!

By Andrea

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