Reduce your BBQ cancer risk

bbqWe all know about the link between processed red meat and cancer, but did you know the flame-cooking of barbecues that we all love so much can also increase your risk? Here are seven simple steps to reduce the dangers…

Know your limits

500g of red or processed meat is considered a healthy weekly allowance – equivalent to one steak, one pork chop and three sausages. If you’re prone to overdoing it on the BBQ, follow up with a few meat-free days to help balance things out.

Reduce the heat

While a bit of light charring is all part of the BBQ experience, incinerated meat isn’t worth the risk. Chemical analysis of foods shows that flame-grilling meat at high temperatures releases chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCA) that have been linked to cancer. Sections of meat that are especially blackened contain the highest concentrations of HCAs, so lower the temperature or elevate the grill to avoid burning your food.

Get marinating

Covering meat in an antioxidant-rich marinade before grilling is a practical way to reduce the potentially carcinogenic properties of even well-done meats, meaning you can flavour your food while providing cancer protection at the same time. Incorporating various herbs and spices in a marinade reduces HCAs by as much as 87%.

Reduce fat content

Carcinogenic chemicals can also form in the smoke caused by dropped meat fat and juices, so trimming excess skin and fat will ensure less harmful smoke flare ups. Wrapping meat in foil also helps to lessen the impact.

Clean the grill

Removing charred bits of food from your BBQ will help prevent chemicals from building up and transferring on to your food. Lightly oiling your grill before cooking will also help prevent burning, charring and sticking.

Pre-cook inside

Try pre-cooking meat in the oven before finishing it outside on the BBQ for that authentic flavour. Less time on the grill means less exposure to potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

Eat your greens

Pairing grilled meats with cruciferous vegetables will add an additional cancer-fighting punch to your meal. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale contain sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to target and block a defective gene associated with cancer.

Posted by nutritionist Sarah West

Orchid’s Big BBQ aims to raise awareness of male cancer as well as funds for life-saving research. Visit for more details.


Leave a Reply

Please login or register to leave a comment.

Please wait while we process your request.

Do not refresh or close your window at any time.