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Good Eats: 5 Grilling Tips For a Healthy July 4th Holiday

It’s summer and that means that almost nightly grills are being fired up. But there are healthy — and unhealthy — ways to barbecue.

Grilling can add a tremendous amount of flavor to foods and because it doesn’t use oil, can be a lighter way of heating up meats and vegetables. But cooking at high temperatures can activate heterocyclic amines (HCAs), chemical compounds released by charring the protein in meats that can be carcinogenic.

The unhealthy compounds develop during the browning process, or Mallard reaction. According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, during this process, the amino acids in the meat combine with the natural sugars as cooking temperatures start to rise.

To avoid exposing yourself to these unwanted compounds at your next barbecue, here are five tips from the doctors at MD Anderson.

1. Wrap it up: Barbecues can also release polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from meats. These form when heat activates an interaction between fat and smoke. Wrapping up the food to be grilled in foil will lessen exposure to smoke and the formation of PAHs.

Learn More: Healthland

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