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Do You Have Any Cancer-Prevention Cooking Tips?

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Q: Do You Have Any Cancer-Prevention Cooking Tips?

A: Gone are the days of the guilt-free barbeque, and for good reason: meat (including chicken and fish) exposed to high-temperature cooking conditions form a host of carcinogenic by-products called heterocyclic aromatic amines, or HAs. Studies have linked increased HA consumption with greater risks of several types of cancer, including colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer. Because of this, health experts recommend limiting foods with high HA levels. Grilling (or barbequing), broiling, and pan frying cause more HAs to form; however, there are, fortunately for meat lovers, plenty of healthy prepping and cooking options:

  • Marinate: Marinating meat has been shown to decrease HA production. Experiment with mixtures of vinegar, vegetable oils, and herbs. Try one made with your favorite beer.
  • Cool it down: Use lower temperatures for cooking meats (300į to 325įF) and cook further away from the heat source (that is, not over an open flame or in direct contact with the pan). Reduce the amount of HAs in food by upping the moisture content of the meat. Use oil or water to minimize contact with the cooking surface.
  • Choose your method wisely: Opt for cooking methods that reduce HA formation. Stewing, simmering, and braising are the best choices; roasting and baking are also good. Boiling or steaming are good options, as with chicken soup or fish wrapped in foil.
  • Donít overcook: Avoid eating char-broiled meat, chicken, or fish. If you grill, consider partially cooking your pre-marinaded meat in the microwave and finishing it on the grill.
  • Cut off the bad bits: Remove the browned or blackened portions of meat and chicken, as this is where these toxic compounds reside in greatest quantity.
  • Go veggie: It is the chemical reactions between animal protein and heat that cause HAs to form upon cooking. Vegetables donít share this trait, though, so grill them up and enjoy guilt-free.

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