Does Grilling Hurt Our Health? (Say It Ain't So!)

A few easy moves can douse grilling's bad reputation.

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Q: Grilling! Say it doesn't hurt your health, please?

Oz Says: The downside to grilling protein is that nasty compounds — some of which are linked to the risk of certain cancers — form in the food, especially in red meat. But that doesn't make it a total no-no, because you can minimize how many of these substances kick up while cooking.

"The higher the temperature, and in general, the more well-done the meat, the greater the levels of carcinogens," says Robert Turesky, PhD, of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. (By the way, panfrying creates the same problem.) Use his tips below to keep the scary stuff low:

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  • Choose poultry, fish, and veggie burgers. These generally form lower levels of carcinogens. (Exception: swordfish, so make it occasional.)
  • Meat? Marinate it well. Bathe it in onions and spices including turmeric and black pepper to help keep dangerous molecules from forming.
  • Avoid charring. If you took your eyes off the grill too long, don't eat the burned part, where the highest levels of risky compounds are.
  • Flip whatever you're cooking frequently. This move reduces the temperature and helps prevent your meal from burning.
  • Stifle smoke. When meat fat drips onto charcoal, it creates smoke, which brings a different carcinogen. Trim fat before cooking.

This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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