BBQ – Healthy or NOT!

This is a topic that could’ve been touched on as early as April but it was a bit of a wet summer and it just seemed to come upon us all at once – just recently. Along with this brings the outdoors in all of us – even if it’s just cooking outside on the BBQ or over a campfire. There are many social aspects around this way of cooking and the fact that it takes places outdoors gives much pleasure. Not to be the bearer of bad news but there can be some disturbing downsides to our health if precautions not taken. But let’s break it down. 


  • Reduces fat in foods by grilling or BBQ 
  • Tastes yummy!

Health Concerns:

  • PAH’s
    • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 
    • PAH’s form when fat from the meat drips onto the hot coals or grill element. 
  • HCA’s 
    • Heterocyclic amines
    • HCA’s are produced when red meat, poultry and fish are cooked using high-heat

So what’s the problem?

Other than the loaded calories and highly saturated fats that can be ingested from firing up very-high fat meats like smokies or sausages, but even worse are the carcinogens formed when barbecuing. HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic— meaning, they cause changes in dna that may increase the risk of cancer. HCAs are not found in significant amounts in foods other than meat cooked at high temperatures. PAHs however, can be found in other charred foods, as well as in cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes. Unfortunately, that yummy charring that forms on meat can contain PAHs

But don’t despair, grill lovers — a new, healthy way to grill is possible.

Top 10 tips for safer BBQ foods while still reducing fat, keeping the food yummy, heart healthy and fun!

  • 10. Boil or microwave to pre-cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures this can reduce HCA formation by reducing the time that meat is in contact with high heat to finish cooking.
  • 9. Clean your BBQ before cooking.
  • 8. Avoid direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and avoiding prolonged cooking times.
  • 7. Flip! Continuously turning meat over can substantially reduce HCA formation.
  • 6. Remove charred portions of meat and refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings can also reduce HCA and PAH exposure.
  • 5. Limit the amount of fat that drips, use lean cuts, trim visible fat and skin.
  • 4. Marinate with fat-free or low-fat marinades to limit the fat that drips on the coals. In some studies, this has shown to reduce the formation of HCAs by as much as 92% to 99% in some studies, but don’t baste.
  • 3. Skewer it – this will cut down on grilling time as you will have smaller pieces to cook.
  • 2. Substitute or add! Grilled fruits and vegetables don’t produce carcinogens and have high antioxidants like vitamin c which help neutralize carcinogens if you are still eating the meat.
  • 1. Have fun! BBQ with a glass of wine a glass of wine which offers some health benefits too!  

*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: 

Mikkie Pollon (Nettles), Certified Personal Trainer/Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
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