Dr. Joel Kahn: BBQing can be done more healthfully -- here are a few easy steps

May 28, 2021, 9:29 PM

Twice-monthly health columns are by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms. He's an author and has appeared on national TV, including "Dr. Oz" and "The Doctors Show."

By Dr. Joel Kahn

Though this Memorial Day weekend's weather isn't ideal in Southeast Michigan, many of us still will grill meals during summer's unofficial kickoff. And how food is barbecued can affect more than its taste.  

The way you grill can produce advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can contribute to heart disease, obesity and arthritis. AGEs also contribute to aging and are likely to speed up production of wrinkles.

Frying and grilling foods produces some of the highest levels of AGEs in our diet. For example, french fries from fast food chains have nearly 90 times the amount of AGEs of a boiled potato. Grilled or broiled chicken and chicken nuggets have up to 10 times the amount of AGEs versus boiled chicken.

Grill smarter this summer. (Photo: DepositPhotos)

Here's what can we do to avoid AGEing this holiday weekend?

  • Avoid charred and blackened meats. This is wise because of the high AGE content and a reported link between heavily grilled meats and pancreatic cancer.

  • Marinate meat before and during grilling. Moistened meats produce half of the AGEs of dry versions. Lemon juice and vinegar combinations are particularly good marinades. Marinating meat in dark beer reduces AGE production from grilling, a scientific report says. 

  • Cook for shorter times at lower heat. Avoid the high flames from extra lighter fluids and dripping fats.

  • Clean your grill. Keeping the grill clean of burned residues or grilling on foil may help avoid charring.

  • Consider steaming, poaching or boiling. Healthy vegetarian and vegan diets are naturally low in AGEs and may be responsible for the longer lifespan of vegetarians and vegans.

Memorial Day is the beginning of BBQ season for many. Taking these few extra steps this weekend, as well as in coming months, can make your holiday tastier and safer.

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