Oooo the summer weather has definitely started to shine here in the UK. It’s the perfect time to get the barbecues out and enjoy the sunshine. I love a barbecue, for me that’s when you know that summer has properly arrived! You’ve probably heard before on the news or in magazines about some of the risks that cooking on the barbecue can bring, so I wanted to write a post about how you can cook a more healthier barbecue this summer and not worry about the risks as much when your eating that yummy barbecue feast.
What’s the potential hazard?
Before I write about cooking a more healthier barbecue I wanted to write what potential health risk cooking your food on a barbecue can bring for those of you who don’t know. Most of us cook meat on a barbecue and when the protein in the meat are exposed to the barbecue flames it creates two substances…(I’m going to be abit scientific here) One is Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA) and the other is Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH.) These have been studied and they have been known to contribute to cell mutations which can bring an increased risk of some forms of cancer. However, the studies done on this have shown that the levels of the substances are dependant on a few different factors.
One study compared the PAH levels when they cooked with charcoal briquettes, gas and lump charcoal. The result was that emissions were four times higher when the food was cooked over the charcoal briquettes compared to the other ways it was cooked with. The emissions were the lowest when the meat was cooked with gas. In another study it was found that smoke was reduced by a big 80% when fat was not allowed to drip directly onto the heat source. Just from those two points you can see how you can change the way that you are cooking on the barbecue to reduce any potential risks to your health.
Below are three factors that will show you some simple changes that you can make to help you cook an altogether healthier barbecue.
One study confirmed that the closeness to the heat will add to the level of PAH. It also found that if you cooked the meat at a lower temperature for double of the time and not too near the source of heat then it reduced the PAH levels further. A lower temperature also reduced the levels of HAA too. So next time you are sizzling your meat on the barbecue maybe consider it’s proximity to the heat and lower the temperature and cook for longer instead.
Add a Vegetable Side Dish
Why not add a side helping of vegetables to eat with your barbecued food. But not just any vegetables…Cruciferous vegetables. Eating these vegetables contain isothiocyanates which can protect against the ill effects of HAA. You can do a little google search yourself to find out more about cruciferous vegetables but in a smaller list (just for an idea of what vegetables are cruciferous vegetables) they are; Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower, Radishes…and many more.
Add More Marinade
Marinade is such a yummy addition to add to foods it creates a more delicious flavour overall however, it doesn’t just add flavour it also reduces the residual HAA in cooked foods too and slows down the emissions of PAH from the smoke. So be sure to add marinade to your burgers, sausages, meat, poultry and fish before cooking. But not just any marinade the type of marinade also makes a difference. A study done found a reduction in HAA when the meat was marinated in garlic and turmeric sauce, but when the marinade was from a shop brought barbecue sauce the level of HAA slightly increased. There wasn’t a clear conclusion as to why it slightly increased but it was thought that the shop brought sauce probably contained some oils that dripped onto the heat source therefore slightly changing the HAA levels.
I hope you find this helpful for the next time that you decide to cook a yummy barbecue. They are just three simple ways that you can take into consideration if you are looking for ways in which to cook a more ‘healthier’ barbecue and not worry so much about the potential health risks. As with anything ‘all in moderation.’ Barbecues are all to do with personal preference…even if you don’t want to change the way that you are cooking your food when you are having a barbecue that’s fine as your probably realistically not having one everyday in the summer weather but there have been some scary headlines about barbecues before so I just wanted to write this post for anyone who is interested in cooking the food in a healthier way.