7 steps to healthier, guilt-free summer grilling

Grilled food is one of the great pleasures of summer, but unfortunately, the link between grilled meat and cancer just won’t go away. If this is of concern to you, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk. Denise Snyder, a nutrition researcher at the Duke School of Nursing, offers seven easy tips.

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* If you love the flavor of grilled food, cut down on the amount of meat you eat by throwing more fruits and vegetables like peaches, nectarines, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and bell peppers on the grill. In fact, almost any summer fruit or veggie is delicious grilled.

* Shorten grill time by using a thermometer (always a good idea) to make sure you’re not overcooking the meat; microwave your food first to give it a head start; and choose thinner, leaner cuts of meat. Or make kebabs or skewers, which require less cooking.

* Flip food frequently.

* To avoid smoky flare-ups, which contain cancer-causing substances that coat the meat, line your grill with foil poked with holes to allow the fat to drip down. Keep a spray bottle full of water handy to put out flare-ups as they occur.
* Trim fat from meats before cooking (this will help reduce flare-ups, too).

* Marinating meat first has been shown to reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances. (Check out our favorite marinade recipes.)

* Use the lowest temperature to cook your food thoroughly. Keep your grill rack as high as possible to keep the meat far from the heat.

Snyder also recommends avoiding processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages because grilled or not, they’ve been shown to increase cancer risk. This is a tough one for me since I love hot dogs, but she’s right — they’re best left as an occasional treat.

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