• Dr. Jay Pennock

Safe Grilling and Cooking Ideas

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind while you are cooking this summer

The Institute for Functional Medicine publishes articles monthly and I pulled a few lines from this recent and timely article.

When it comes to food, much attention is paid to “what” we eat—whether it’s organic, gluten-free, whole, or processed—and rightfully so; the nutritional value of the foods we consume significantly influences our trajectory of health and disease. And yet, the effects of foods extend beyond their inherent nutritional value. The way food is prepared changes its healthfulness.


Nonstick pans for cooking have been made with chemicals called PFAS, (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and this group of chemicals has been used in a variety of everyday products since the 1950's. In the US, Teflon pans have been PFOA-free since 2013, so make sure to get rid of your old ones. Safer choices are cast iron and copper pans.


Small amounts of grilled meat are likely just fine to consume, but for people with a history of cancer and/or high consumption, there are some red flags to consider. Research suggests that meat, including beef, pork, poultry, or fish, may form carcinogenic chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) when charred or cooked over high heat, as on a grill. As well, when fat drips into the grill, the resulting flames can cover food with PAHs.

A number of epidemiological studies have evaluated the association of well-done meat intake and meat carcinogen exposure with cancer risk.


  • Take care with how you prepare your food

  • Use avocado or coconut oil if using higher temperatures

  • Eat less meat. Vegetables grilled with coconut or avocado oil are a fantastic way to get healthy macro and micro nutrients in your meals

  • Go Lean: Instead of grilling fatty burgers or sausages (that can produce PAHs when fat hits a flame), opt for grass-fed steak, chicken, or fish. Further, removing the skin from poultry before cooking will reduce HCA formation.

  • Avoid Charring & Trim Meat: Rotate meat frequently to allow the center to fully cook without overheating the surface. Remove any charred portions of meat, and refrain from using gravy made from meat drippings.

  • Use Foil: Wrap meat in foil to prevent fat from dripping into the hot coals. Also, foil-wrapping fruits and veggies can protect them from high heat and the harmful effects of grilled meats (which may accompany them).

  • Use Marinades: Acidic rubs and marinades may help break down some of the muscle in the meat and reduce the number of HCAs on your plate.

It is the nature of the world we live in that chemicals are literally all around us—in the air we breathe, the food we consume, and the items we use for everyday life—but armed with knowledge, people can make choices that limit their exposure. We have learned a great deal in recent years about how toxins affect us, where they originate, and how to improve our ability to detoxify in a toxic world.

#grilling #cancer #meat #vegetables #safecooking #organic #health #menshealth #WomensHealth


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