Summer is here, and thankfully gatherings are back. In this issue, we will share some ideas to help you and your loved ones make the most of the season. Enjoy your summer!
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, cooking white or red meats at high temperatures, such as grilling or barbecuing, can lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both HCAs and PAHs cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon, stomach, and prostate.
HCAs are produced in the meat when amino acids react to high heat. PAHs are present in flames and smoke produced when fat and juices drip down and can stick to the surface of the meats.
There are, however, some ways you can reduce the formation of these chemicals and reduce your exposure to cancer-causing compounds.
Five steps for safe grilling
- Use marinades: Marinating meat before grilling can decrease the formation of HCAs. According to a recent study, honey marinades showed better properties compared to other ingredients such as sugar, salts, and lactic acid in terms of the formation of HCA, chemical, physical, and sensory properties.
- Reduce grilling time: You can partially cook your meats in a microwave, oven, or pan before transfer to the grill to add flavor.
- Reduce flame exposure: Cook your meats in the coldest area of the grill and avoid open flame areas. Choose cuts with less fat, to reduce dripping that produces flames and smoke. Also consider using a gas grill.
- Avoid charred meat: Although the brown crust of grilled meat might taste good, it could have more cancer-causing chemicals.
- Grill fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables don’t have muscle proteins, and therefore don’t produce HCAs. Grilled fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any meal. Try grilling bell peppers, squash, onions, pineapples, mangos, peaches, and strawberries. You will be surprised how grilling enhances their flavor.
Note: Practice moderation in the consumption of grilled and barbecue meats. Try making it something special and sporadic rather than a daily summer cooking method.
Eat The Rainbow
No single food contains all the nutrients we need. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds gives us access to a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients (plant compounds), all of which show benefits to human health. Phytonutrients are responsible for plants’ color, unique flavors, and health properties. See table below for some examples of phytonutrients found in different colors of fruits and vegetables.
Bottom Line: If your plate looks like a rainbow, you are making good food choices.
|Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon
|May protect against some cancers, promotes heart health
|Grapes, prunes, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, red apples
|May decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and cognitive impairment
|Carrots, mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, winter squash, sweet potatoes
|Support eye health; decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers
|Spinach, collard greens, yellow corn, green peas, avocados, honey dew
|Strong antioxidants, supports eye health
|Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale
|Anti-inflammatory; may protect against some cancers
|Allicin Quercetin Flavonoids
|Leeks, onions, garlic, chives
|Support cardiovascular health; reduced risk of some cancers
When buying in local farmers markets, you support the local economy by keeping money in the community. You support sustainability by cutting the amount of fuel needed to ship the food to your market.
For more information on farmers markets in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture.