Are Barbecues Healthy?
Summer means barbecue season. There has been research over the years on whether barbecuing your food is healthy for you because all the fats come out in the cooking, or whether it's bad for you because it creates more free radicals in your body.
Helen Vlassara, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan did the research and published her study. It concluded that grilling and other high-heat cooking methods accelerate ageing. There is a class of toxins called AGEs, which develop during cooking, particularly when grilling, frying and flame cooking. AGEs then accumulate in the body and have been associated with diabetes and insulin inbalances. They can also increase the likelihood of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis
The good news is that boiling, stewing and poaching are methods that avoid production of these toxins.
In other cooking styles, where muscle meats are concerned, cooking at high heat such as frying, grilling and deep fat frying forms carcinogenic chemicals. Muscle meats are meat and fish.
So how do you avoid the toxins and carcinogenic chemicals? If you're able to, you can cook on medium to low heat. If you want to cook on high heat, then marinating the meat or fish beforehand helps. Marinades lower the carcinogenic chemicals considerably especially if you can use strong beers or wines. Non-alcoholic versions don't have the same effect. Make sure you soak the meat or fish in the marinade for at least an hour or even overnight.
Do remember when you're eating BBQ or grilled food to eat lots of vegetables to boost your anti-oxidants which will help quench the free radicals. The brighter the colour, the higher the anti-oxidant content, hitherto orange and red peppers are better than green, red onions better than white. One tip is to make sure that for every portion of BBQ'd food, you consume at least double that of vegetables. Raw that is.