Grilling can be one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to cook, but any time you cook meat at a high temperature, cancer promoting compounds called Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) can form, particularly in the blackened/charred areas. Don’t throw out your grill just yet. Here are 3 simple ways you can minimize the amount of HCAs produced and still enjoy your favorite grilled meats.
Marinate – Not only do homemade marinades make your meat tastier, but they may make them healthier too. It doesn’t seem to matter how long you let your meat marinate, or what you marinate it in, as long as you give your meat a dip before you throw it on the grill. The moisture in the marinade seems to inhibit HCA formation.
Don’t Overcook – The more time on the grill, the drier the meat becomes and the more likely HCAs are to form. Stick with lean cuts (like those with the word “loin” or “round” in their names) and enjoy it cooked to no more than medium doneness (135-145 degrees F). According to the new USDA guidelines, pork can be safely cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
Spice It Up – Add some spice to your next hamburger or steak for a boost in flavor and protection against HCAs. One study showed a spice mixture added to hamburger meat before cooking, neutralized the HCA content by 71 %.