skip to Main Content
a plate of grilled steaks surrounded by plates and bowls of roasted veggies

Nothing dampens an enthusiasm for grilling like knowing that dining on meat after it’s been cooked at high temperatures heightens the risk of several cancers. But don’t hang up your tongs just yet. Instead, invite the allium family to dinner.

The plant genus that includes onions and garlic, alliums house powerful substances that may shield the body from grill-induced carcinogens.

Grilling, pan-frying, and barbecuing red meat, poultry, or fish triggers a troublesome trifecta — amino acids, sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle meat) — that adds up to carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCA) that can damage the body’s DNA, making it easier for cancer to gain a toehold.

Studies suggest that adding alliums to meat marinades can offset the risks. One study in particular found that marinating meat in onion, garlic, and lemon juice lowered HCAs by as much as 70 percent. (Vitamin C in lemons is also a powerful antioxidant.)

To ignite alliums’ cancer-fighting enzymes, you must damage the plant’s cell walls. So prep with an eye toward pulverizing: Dice or mince onions; crush garlic in a press. Once they are prepped, allow alliums to rest for 10 minutes to heighten flavor and enzymatic activity.

“Alliums are nature-made defense agents against cancer,” says Kathie Swift, RDN, LDN, cofounder of the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy.

If you are a guest at someone else’s grill, tap the power of alliums by layering a slice of red onion atop your burger or sprinkling diced white onions on your hot dog or bratwurst. (For more on alliums’ health benefits, “All About Alliums“.)

This article originally appeared as “Lowering Grilled Meat’s Cancer Risk” in the October 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Catherine
Catherine Guthrie

Catherine Guthrie is an Experience Life contributing editor.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

City and state are only displayed in our print magazine if your comment is chosen for publication.

ADVERTISEMENT

More Like This

a person preparing to cook fish over a grill
By Andrew Zimmern
Want to get excited about outdoor cooking? Grill some fresh fish.
A selection of BBQ skewers on the grill
By the Experience Life Team
Summer is so close, you can almost smell it — along with hamburgers, chicken, and other backyard barbecue classics. A growing body of research, however, finds that grilling season can be hard on your health if you eat charred meat or inhale too much smoke.
grass fed meat
By Cary Neff
High in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, meat from pasture-fed cattle is a nourishing delicacy.
Back To Top