BBQ - How Can We Reduce The Formation Of Dangerous Chemicals?

BBQs are great! But how can we reduce for the formation of potentially dangerous chemicals? – By Daniel Wellard, Physio4Life Personal Trainer and Nutritionist

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What a lovely weekend.


Fingers crossed the weather will be super kind to us this summer and there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy a BBQ or two.

The great thing about bbq’s are

  • being outdoors,
  • being with friends,
  • BBQ meat, fish and veg tastes super yummy.


But doesn’t grilling meat cause cancer?


That’s currently one of the most controversial subjects in the health and fitness industry. And like most nutritional subjects portrayed in the media, there’s a grain of truth to it…and a whole lot of fear-mongering.


Now, grilling meat can certainly produce a couple of chemicals that increase risk of cancer. These chemicals are known as


  • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form when meat is overcooked or charbroiled:


  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form when meat is charred or blackened, or when fat from the meat drips onto the hot surface of the grill. This forms PAHs in the smoke, which then permeates the meat.


These chemicals are produced mostly when meat is cooked at a really high heat (above 300 degrees Celsius). However, most people cook their meat on a BBQ around 100-250c.


BUT we must Keep the risks in perspective. Overall, the chemicals produced by bbq cooking makes a minor contribution to your cancer risk.

  • Being sedentary,
  • having excess body fat,
  • and eating a diet rich in highly processed foods are much greater risk factors.
  • If you have some slow-cooked, pit-roasted ribs in your life once in a while, you’ll probably survive. (And likely be happier overall. Don’t be afraid of your food.)



Here are some simple ways to reduce the formation of these chemicals.


  1. Use herbs and spices. They make food taste nice and reduce the chemical formation.
  2. Acid based marinades (lemon, lime, vinegar, wine, yoghurt) can reduce the chemical formation
  3. Don’t over cook meat. Flip regularly, cook until internal temp is ideal.
  4. Choose good quality meat. Cheaper meats (hot dog, cheap ham, bacon, sausage) contain nitrates which can be problematic.
  5. Eat lots of fruits and veg. They contain health promoting compounds that reduce the chemical production.

The main message is, Enjoy the BBQ season. Live a healthy lifestyle and stay active!



Happy Health

Daniel Wellard

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