Healthy grill skills

A few tips for grilling burgers, chicken and steak sans cancer-causing compounds

Leaner meats have less of the greasy drip that can create carcinogen-carrying smoke. "When the fatty drip hits the coals or flame, the smoke travels up and deposits carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on your meat," says Karen Collins, R.D., nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. Remove excess fat before grilling; for the least fat, opt for a turkey burger or loin cut of beef.

A marinade with herbs such as rosemary, basil and oregano can reduce carcinogens by 87 percent, according to research from Kansas State University in Manhattan. The herbs contain polyphenolic antioxidants, which prevent the free radical activity that forms carcinogens on the meat's surface, says J. Scott Smith, Ph.D., professor of food chemistry.

CLEAN THE GRILL: Bits of leftover meat on the rack can drop from the grate to the flames below and create more carcinogen-filled smoke. "To minimize flare-ups, scrub your grill right after each use with a wire brush," says Catherine Mayhew, author of The Handy Mom's Guide to Grilling (Cool Springs Press). Use a nonstick cooking spray to prevent future buildup.

-Morgan Lord

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