9 Hot Tips for Healthy Grilling

It’s summer time, and that means the grill is hot instead of the kitchen!

We’ve put together a list of healthy grilling tips gathered from information found at the American Institute for Cancer Research.

First make sure to grill lots of veggies. Muscle meats (red meats )like beef, chicken or fish pose the largest risk of forming cancer-promoting heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) when grilled. These compounds, called HCAs (heterocyclic amines), have been shown to cause tumors in animals and possibly increase the risk of some cancers in humans. 

Try grilling marinated vegetables on skewers, a grilling tray or wrapped in foil. Other healthy barbecue choices are veggie burgers, pizza, tofu, or quesadillas. Grilled fruit makes a sweet, healthy dessert.

When grilling meat, the following tips can help decrease cancer risk:

  • Clean the grill well before cooking.Removing charred substances can help reduce exposure to carcinogens.
  • Completely defrost meat before grilling. Marinating meats before grilling not only tenderizes the meat, it may significantly reduce the amount of HCA’s. Marinate in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If you use the same marinade to baste the meat, boil it for 3 minutes to kill any bacteria present. 
  • Trim the fat. Choose lean, well-trimmed meats to grill; they have less fat to drip into the flames. Remove the skin from poultry. Avoid high-fat meats such as ribs or sausages. 
  • Pre-cook meats, fish and poultry in the oven or microwave, then briefly grill for flavor. 
  • Keep meat portions small so they need only spend a brief time on the grill. Skewered kebobs cook the fastest. 
  • Fix the drips. Avoid letting juices drip into the flames or coals, which causes smoke and flare-ups. Use tongs or a spatula to turn foods, instead of piercing meat with a fork. Covering the grill with punctured aluminum foil, not placing meats directly over coals and keeping a water spray bottle on hand (for control of flare-ups) are other ways to reduce drips. 
  • Flip frequently. Recent research has found that cooking hamburger patties at a lower temperature and turning them often accelerates the cooking process, helps prevent the formation of HCA’s and is equally effective in killing bacteria. 

Make sure to remove all charred or burned portions of food before eating

Cooking Meat to Safe Temperatures. To find out if meat is done, use an instant-read thermometer placed into the deepest part of the meat – but not right next to the bone – to check and see if the meat is done. Temperatures vary depending on the type of meat.

Type of Food                                  Temperature

Beef, veal, lamb (whole cuts)

       Medium rare                                          145 F

       Medium                                                   160 F

       Well done                                                170 F


       Medium                                                  160 F

       Well done                                                170 F


       Ground chicken and turkey                 165 F

       Poultry breasts                                       170 F

       Whole poultry and thighs                     180 F

Fish and Seafood                                           145 F

Source: Mayoclinic.com