A good grillin' may elicit a confession from a bad guy at the hands of Gibbs and his crew on "NCIS," but when you put a healthy, skinless chicken breast on the flame, there's potential for some bad chemistry.
Cooking meat, as well as poultry, fish, and even vegetables, over charcoal or any source of high heat produces two toxins: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), both known carcinogens. But you don't have to give up the joys of grilling; you can fire up the barbie, enjoy great flavors, and eliminate the toxins with simple techniques:
1. Stop the fat-dripping, PHA-producing cycle. When meat and other foods drip their juices on flames or embers, they cause flares that deposit PHAs on the underside of your food. Minimize that nasty additive by placing your food on aluminum foil (you can poke holes or cut slits in it) on top of the grill's grate.
2. Eliminate 90 percent of HCAs by microwaving your fish or poultry (meat too, but we avoid all red meat to help us stay younger) for one and a half to two minutes before putting it on the grill.
3. Always marinate. And make sure you use fresh rosemary (a real HCA killer) and lemon juice, with a base of balsamic vinegar. Sounds good, right?
4. And on the side? Make sure there's a whole lotta broccoli goin' on. Broccoli has been shown to break down HCAs, even the ones that get through the microwave and marinade and end up on the food.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
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