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Healthy Grilling | Healthy Living

Jacqueline L’Heureux, PharmD


May 28th, 2015

Healthy Grilling

Nothing beats pulling out the grill in the summer to cook some delicious food for you and the family. Although grilling is a great way to prepare food, intense heat and meat in combination, has the potential to release compounds that may potentially be hazardous to your health. Let’s look at some simple ways that can help you safely grill to avoid these risks and enjoy cooking in a healthy way!

Start out with a clean grill

  • Leftover char build up can stick to your next meal. After the grill has cooled, it is helpful to wipe it down with a wet cloth and clean your grill by using a grill-cleaning brush to remove any remaining char.
  • Outdoor grill clean-up can be simple and easy; check out a few tips by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA).

Try grilling at a lower temperature

  • Flames and smoke can lead to exposure of potentially dangerous compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These compounds are not dangerous on their own, but our body enzymes have the potential to convert them into harmful substances.
  • Reduce the risk of burning your food on the grill by continuously turning it and avoid too much direct exposure to open flames.
  • Pre-cooking in the microwave, oven or stove right before placing on the grill is a great way to reduce grilling time.
  • Grill for a longer period of time when using lower temperatures to ensure that food is thoroughly cooked to destroy potentially harmful bacteria.
  • A great way to determine doneness of meat is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.

Try marinating your food

  • Adding sauces and spices can help lower potential carcinogens while grilling.
  • Cut or cubed meat and poultry can be marinated up to 2 days; whole pieces of beef, veal, pork, lamb roasts, chops and steaks can be marinated up to 5 days.

Add vegetables and fruit for added benefits

  • Vegetables and fruits do not produce HCA’s and they can create balance, as well as add color to your meal.
  • Kabobs are great for combination of your protein, vegetables and/or fruit.
  • Great vegetables for the grill: asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, or corn.
  • Great fruit for the grill: pineapple, peaches, plums, and bananas.

Refrigerate meat

  • Meat and poultry should be refrigerated until ready to use on the grill in order to reduce the chance for bacterial growth
  • Frozen foods, especially meat/poultry should be completely thawed out before grilling to ensure even cooking.

A few extra tips to keep in mind:

  • Charcoal has the potential to reach higher temperatures; this can lead to higher potential formation of smoke and HCA’s. A great benefit of using gas grills is their ability to better control temperature.
  • Both charcoal and propane gas grills should only be used in outdoor settings.
  • Grilling safely is not only about the food, but also awareness of the environment and the people around you. A couple safety reminders by the National Fire Protection Association include:
  • Never leave your grill unattended
  • Check the gas tank hose for any leaks
  • Keep children and pets away from the grilling area

There are various ways to enjoy grilling safely! This summer, try something different and healthy on the grill!

Eunice Park, PharmD Candidate 2015

Jacqueline L’Heureux, PharmD

For more information, visit:

Hearth, Patio, and Barbeque Association:

National Fire Protection Association:

Food Safety:

Minimum Internal Temperatures:


One Response to Healthy Grilling | Healthy Living

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