Grilled meats
'Tis the season of barbecues, picnics, and potlucks. Of summer evenings on the patio enjoying a juicy grilled burger or steak. Of friends and families gathered together around the grill to celebrate summer.

But did you know that grilling foods - particularly meats (but also vegetables as well) - can actually be harming your health? In fact, compounds found in browning meats have been linked to inflammation, advanced aging, and even cancer.

I know what you're thinking - "How can I ever give up my grilled burgers and brats?!?"

The good new is, you don't have to - as long as you make a few simple changes to your cooking habits. In fact, with these simple additions, your grilled meats will taste better than ever!

You see, when you cook meat over high heat (grilling, broiling, etc.), the browning action triggers the formation of carcinogenic compounds called HCA's (heterocyclic amines). While this may sound scary, the truth is that you probably eat a number of carcinogens on a fairly regular basis. Antioxidants are the key to protecting your body from the harmful effects of these compounds, so be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies to keep yourself healthy.

But one way to avoid HCAs in your meat is to cook it using a water-based method - such as in a soup, stew, or crockpot. While this is a healthier way to cook meat, you don't necessarily have to give up all your favorite grilled meats. In fact, there is a simple trick that helps neutralize the effects of HCAs, and can even make your food taste better at the same time!

Would you be surprised to learn that just adding a few herbs and spices to your marinade can actually make your grilled meats healthier?

Here is a great tip from nutritionist, Mike Geary, on why this works:
If you're going to grill meats, marinating meats for hours beforehand in liquid mixtures that contain rosemary and other herbs/spices can dramatically help to reduce HCA's (heterocyclic amines), which are carcinogenic compounds that can form when meats are grilled.  So using rosemary, thyme, garlic, oregano and other spices in a meat marinade before grilling meats can drastically reduce any carcinogens that normally would form on grilled meat.

The antioxidants in rosemary and thyme from a marinade were specifically cited in studies as being powerful inhibitors of HCA formation when grilling meats.  But it was also noted that other spices such as garlic, oregano, and others can help to prevent HCA formation as well, so I suggest using a variety, which tastes great anyway!
One caveat to keep in mind, even if you add these ingredients to your grilled meats, is that the longer you cook the meat (the more well-done it is), the higher the concentration of HCAs. If you like your steaks well-done, just be aware that you're consuming a lot more carcinogens than if you eat your meats more rare, so you will want to make sure to consume extra antioxidants to offset them. Be sure to consume lots of fresh raw veggies, berries, green tea, and herbs and spices to help combat the effects of your well-done meats.

And lastly, pay close attention to the quality of the meat you're consuming!

What do I mean by quality?

I mean how the animal was raised.

Grass-fed meats can actually be super healthy, containing plenty of healthy amino acids, healthy fats, and high-quality protein.

Here's what Mike says about the importance of the quality of the meat you choose to eat:
While many health and medical experts caution against the consumption of meats, claiming they can “cause heart problems...”, there are no scientific studies showing this when you're talking about high quality, organic and pasture-raised meats.  Most of the negative studies on meat refer to processed meats laden with chemicals, such as hot dogs or lunch meats, but not a good grass-fed steak.

Animals that are raised in high-population commercial farms are fed mostly corn, corn by-products, and other grains, that completely change the chemistry of the meat you’re preparing.

They turn an otherwise healthy & fat-fighting meal into a health-destroying, inflammatory, fat-GAINING meal.

So the next time you’re at your local butcher or grocery store, make sure to seek out the highest quality pasture-raised meats, loaded with more vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Not only will they taste better, but they’ll also be much better for your waistline and health.
You can check out Mike's article to learn more about this, but in the meantime, just make sure when you're prepping your meat for your upcoming 4th of July barbecue, to add plenty of rosemary, thyme, garlic, and oregano to your marinade - you mouth will say "YUM" and your body will say "thank you!"  :-)

To your health,


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