Summer BBQ – Take Your Health Outside With You to The Picnic Table

Summer time is here and that means picnics and barbecue time for most Americans.

This summer, don’t leave your health inside - take it out on the grill or picnic table with you!

Go easy on the high sodium barbecue sauce, charred red meat and processed meats.

Barbecue sauce tends to be very high in sodium. Eat a cup of it and you can ingest an average of 2000 mg of sodium! Quick tip: use half salt-free ketchup and half barbecue sauce to cut sodium.

Limit the time that the meat is spent on the grill by microwaving or baking at a low temperature first. Meats that were microwaved for 2 minutes prior to grilling had a 90% decrease in carcinogen content.

There are currently no guidelines for HCAs and more research is needed. (www.cancer.gov)

Go big on the fruits and veggies. The best foods to grill are fruits and vegetables. They make great side dishes and taste so yummy when warm and brown. Corn, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, summer squash - the sky is the limit for veggies.

And fruits make great grilled items too: pineapple, orange wedges, peaches and mangoes all go great on the grill. Serve them as a side or as a dessert.

Don’t forget to add more healthful side dishes like baked beans, salad and melon to your meals.

When cooking meat, remember that there are 4 things, according to the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet on Cooked Meats (cancer.gov) that increase carcinogens called HCAs in your food:

  1. Type of food: cooked muscle meats form HCAs.
  2. Cooking method: Frying, broiling and grilling produce the most carcinogens when cooking meat because they are high  in temperature. Oven roasting and baking are considered better alternatives. Consider putting a bit of barbecued meat in the oven while you grill veggies outside.
  3. Temperature: Oven roasting, poaching, steaming and baking are the lowest temperature cooking methods and they form little HCAs.
  4. Time - the longer you cook or char, the more HCAs you produce.

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