A recent warning from the American Heart Association claimed grilling meat, chicken and fish at high temperatures may cause high […]
A recent warning from the American Heart Association claimed grilling meat, chicken and fish at high temperatures may cause high blood pressure.
In their study, researchers revealed startling statistics on the risk of developing high blood pressure:
- 17 percent higher for those who ate grilled, broiled or roasted beef, chicken or fish more than 15 times a month than those who at these products only 4 times a month.
- 15 percent higher in those who prefer their food well done, compared to those who like rarer meats.
- 17 percent higher in those who consumed the highest levels of meats charred or exposed to high temperatures than those with lowest intake.
“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk on developing high blood pressure,” reported Gang Liu, PhD, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The takeaway message is not to cook the food to death, says renowned Chef Gerard Viverito, an Associate Professor in Culinary Arts and teacher at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
“Use a meat thermometer in the thicket part to ensure doneness.” Healthy internal temperatures are: poultry, 180 degrees; burgers, 160 degrees; pork 160 degrees; and steaks, 145 for medium rare and 160 degrees for medium.
Chef Gerard says that undercooking your barbecued meat can also cause health problems.
“Under cooked ground beef can be a source of E. Coli, a bacteria that can cause severe stomach distress, vomiting and diarrhea,” note’s the chef. “In worst case scenarios, when older people, children and those with compromised immune systems are involved, contamination with E. Coli can lead to kidney failure.
Other safety tips include:
- Thaw meat in the refrigerator. Defrosting food on the counter encourages the growth of disease causing pathogens such as listeria and salmonella.
- If you are marinating the protein, avoid using olive oil which can break down at high temperatures into dangerous carcinogens. Chef Gerard prefers using Malaysian sustainable palm oil that can stand up to high heat.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before transferring food to the grill.
Cooking with charcoal or propane:
- To avoid inhaling smoke and help prevent accidental fire, position the grill away from your house, and out from under eaves and tree branches. Each year, home grilling is responsible for thousands of home fires and for sending thousands of people to the hospital for burns.
- Start with a clean grill. A build up of extra grease and fat can cause a flash fire, in addition to contaminating your food with potential carcinogens.
- Only use charcoal starter fluid with a charcoal grill. Stay safe by never adding flammable fluid once a fire has started.
- Keep meat and vegetables separate on a grill. You want to keep meat drippings from falling on your vegetables. “That’s because vegetables don’t’ cook long enough to destroy any bacteria present in the drippings,” says Chef Gerard.
Serving your food:
- Always transfer cooked food onto a clean latter. Don’t use the same plate that you just used for the raw food.
- Keep food hot until it’s served. Move it off the fire but keep it on the warm grill. “Keep your cold side dishes cold, packed on ice,” adds the chef. “Very hot food and very cold food is the safest, but since most people like to eat foods somewhere in the middle, this can be a problem. We call it the temperature danger zone where bacteria multiply exponentially.”
- Throw away any burned or charred portions before eating. “The char and soot may contain dangerous chemicals or carcinogens.”