Integrative Health Blog

Holistic Nutrition: Healthy Grilling 101

Posted by admin on Wed, May 02, 2012

Anita Capizzi RN, CHC

Anita's Healthy Tips

What will you be putting on the grill this season? holistic_nutrition

I love it when the warm weather begs us to cook outdoors and enjoy the longer days by having dinner on the patio. That means making sure that the grill is in working order and ready to use. Whether you favor charcoal or gas, how you grill can have health consequences.

What Happens When You Grill Meat

Even local farm raised chicken, beef and pork can contain dangerous chemicals compounds when grilled incorrectly. I am talking about HCA’s or heterocyclic amines which are chemical compounds found in grilled and especially burned meat that has been cooked for long periods of time. When fat drips in to the grill and causes flames to lick the meat, these compounds are formed. There are many types of HCA’s and several are known to cause cancer.

Does grilling always have to include meats? No. Marinated portabello mushrooms or veggie kabobs are excellent on the grill served with cous cous and a delicious mixed greens salad. Vegetables are exempt because only animal meats can react with high temperatures and form HCA’s.

How to Grill with Health in Mind

There ARE things that you can do to reduce the formation of HCA’s when grilling meats. Research has shown that by marinating chicken in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, it’s possible to reduce HCA formation by as much as 90%! Marinating beef for several hours also reduces the formation of dangerous HCA’s.

Simply cooking meats at a lower temperature for a longer period is a good option. Using a piece of aluminum foil to protect the meat from the open flame while cooking is also an option. Dr. Andrew Weil says that brushing a rosemary extract (found in health food stores) on beef also significantly reduces HCA levels.

If you use a charcoal grill, there are devices that allow you to light the charcoal briquettes without using lighter fluid which may contain toxins.

Traditions like BBQ’s don’t have to fall by the wayside as we learn new information.

We can make small changes that remind us that we are indeed in charge of our own health.


 Anita Capizzi, RN, CHC, is a Certified Health Coach at National Integrated Health Associates and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her philosphy is to meet people where they are and upgrade their level of holistic nutrition and wellness, one step at a time.




















Topics: holistic nutrition, integrative health