6 Surprising Ways To Reduce Carcinogens When You Grill

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As the year-end rolls around, barbeques seem to be a must-have activity at chalets, Christmas parties, and New Year countdowns. You know the drill: Call for BBQ catering in Singapore, set up the grill, and cook away. Truth is, we all like a good ol’ barbeque once in a while – think juicy meats, smoky crisped edges, and hearty grilled corn. However, barbeques have also been shown to be related to something much more sinister – cancer.

Studies have drawn a relation between BBQ and cancer, as some of the chemical compounds that result when meat and flame meets are known cancer-causing agents. These carcinogens form on the meat when it is cooked on an open fire, and when ingested, can mutate DNA and cause cancerous growths in the body. Does this mean we should stave off barbeque for life? No!

Although there are health risks involved in eating barbequed foods, those who cannot resist the grill can take comfort in knowing that there are ways to drastically reduce your exposure to carcinogens from the barbeque. These methods involve ways to minimise the formation of cancer-causing compounds, and ways to reduce your consumption of the carcinogens. With the below methods, you can have your grilled ribs and eat it too.


Research has found that marinating meats before grilling can reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), a cancer-causing agent, by as much as 50%. The best marinades for anti-cancer action are vinegar-based sauces with herbs and spices like basil, mint, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, and ground pepper. Avoid store-bought sugar-laden sauces at all costs, as these have been shown to cause the formation of more HCAs rather than less.

As for long how to marinate, a few minutes is all it takes for the anti-cancer effect to kick in. A few hours is recommended for the flavours to really kick in, but experts warn against prolonged marinating, as this can cause antioxidants to decompose instead.

Layer with foil

The combination of meat and flame in direct contact causes the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), another cancer-causing compound. Thus, the most common-sense way to reduce the formation of PAHs is to minimise contact of the meats with the fire. One way to do this is to layer the grill with aluminium foil, forming an effective barrier between the meat and flames.

Clean your grill

This goes without saying, but to all the people who might have neglected this step – clean your grill before starting to cook! Dirty grills are not just disgusting, but they are also unhealthy. The remnants of the previous round (or rounds!) of barbeques that have gone down at the same grill include meat bits that have been burnt – or will be burnt when you fire up the grill – thus adding more HCAs than necessary to your food.

Grill more vegetable or seafood 

HCAs form when meats are grilled, due to the reaction between a protein called creatine and sugars in the meat. However, fruits and veggies do not possess creatine, meaning that they won’t produce HCA when grilled. This is good news for those who love their grilled vegetables, as it is safer to eat them than grilled meats. Seafood is also a good idea because they tend to cook faster than meats like chicken or pork. With a shorter cooking time, there’s less time for harmful chemicals to form, allowing you to enjoy tasty food minus the carcinogens.

Flip meats

Other than for the reason of even cooking, flipping your food often while grilling is also useful in reducing the amount of char that forms on your meat, resulting in less HCA formation. Abstain from using the blowtorch method. Fancy as it may look, the direct flames guarantee more char and more HCAs on your meat.

Add garlic and onion

Not only are garlic and onion great flavour boosters, but they are also effective carcinogen-busters! Add them to your meats in whatever form you like – minced or sliced – and smother them generously over the meats. As they target different HCAs, both can be used together for the maximum effect.

Now that you know the tips for reducing your exposure to carcinogens in barbeque foods, you can have peace of mind to enjoy your next barbeque gathering. Order your favourite ingredients for BBQ wholesale in Singapore, and get ready for a sizzling good time!