By Garth Davis, MD
It is finally summer, and we can dust the pollen off the grill and start the traditional grilling. But wait, not so fast. Did you know that grilling meat can actually produce chemicals that are carcinogenic? Yes, those black grill lines we love to see on our meat are actually filled with a chemical called heterocyclic amines, which have been linked with cancer. In addition, the meats we grill with are typically high in saturated fat and calories.
But don’t put the grill away just yet, you just have to get creative. Fruits and veggies taste great off the grill, and don’t release any toxic chemicals, even when they get grill marks. They also happen to be lower calorie, lower fat, and have a good dose of fiber. They taste great after marinating, and only need to soak for about an hour.
Get creative with marinades, but I try and keep low oil. Oil is high in calories and when placed at high heat can cause free radicals. You really don’t need much oil to grill some delicious fruits like pineapple, mango or even pear. They taste great with a little chili spice.
Veggie kabobs are easy and healthy choices using tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and onions. Don’t forget to grill some marinated portobellos for a healthy, fulfilling ‘burger.’
People often ask if grilling lessens the nutritional value of the fruits and veggies. It does decrease the vitamin C and some B vitamins, but it also increases the absorption of other beneficial compounds, such as lycopene from tomatoes. They are definitely more nutrient filled than your classic grilled items with far less negative effects.
So get creative and healthy this summer by hitting up the produce aisle and getting creative with the grill.
Garth Davis, MD, FASMBS, is the Medical Director of Mission Weight Management.