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It’s heating up outside, and many of us will be enjoying the warm weather and firing up the grill this summer.  Did you know that exposing meat to high temperatures and smoke creates chemicals that are thought to increase your cancer risk? Studies have shown that these chemicals cause many types of cancer in rodents. In human beings, studies have found that people who eat lots of charred foods are at higher risk for colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

When plant-based foods such as tofu and vegetables are grilled, little or none of the compounds associated with increased cancer risk are produced. Consider tofu burgers, veggie skewers 
and portabello mushrooms. If you do grill meat, experts recommend these ways to do it more healthfully:

  • Choose leaner meat and trim visible fat to reduce flare-ups and smoke.
  • Cut meat into smaller pieces to lessen cooking time and lower heat intensity.
  • Marinate meat in citrus and other fruit juices, vegetable oils, vinegar and seasonings, which researchers say can decrease grilling’s harmful effects, but watch out for sauces containing sugar, which tends to increase them.
  • Flip frequently, cooking only until the meat is safe to eat.   

Sources: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, Harvard Health Letter, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine