Health & Spirit

Nutrition News: Fire Up the Grill

Charlyn Fargo on

Most of us think grilling when we think summer. Parties at home usually center around the grill -- burgers, brats, barbecued chicken or steak. Raising cattle on our family farm meant our freezer was full of high-quality beef just waiting to be grilled.

How healthy is it? Depends on how you cook the meat.

"Cooking meat at high temperatures is known to produce cancer-causing chemicals," according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. So what can we do to make it safer?

Grill plenty of vegetables along with those burgers. And grill at lower temperatures. Another key is to marinade meat before it's grilled. The marinade adds flavor and reduces formation of cancer-causing chemicals.

The AICR recommends marinating meat, poultry and fish for at least 30 minutes. Prepare a marinade that includes vinegar, lemon juice or wine, along with your favorite herbs and spices.

The National Beef Council offers two reasons you might want to marinade meat: to add flavor or to tenderize. Both contain similar ingredients, but the key is the marinating time. If you're just looking to add flavor, you only need to marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours. If you're looking to tenderize cuts, you'll want to marinate for 6 to 24 hours.


Marinades can offer the best of both worlds: They allow you to take a leaner, healthier cut, such as a strip, flank, top round or tenderloin steak, and give it more flavor.

A few tips to keep it food safe, gleaned from the National Beef Council:

1. Always marinate in the refrigerator.

2. Allow 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for every pound of beef.


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