We’ve all done it.  Something takes our attention when we are at the BBQ and all of a sudden your perfectly grilled burger is a now a hockey puck (or close to it).  On closer inspection, you deem the burger edible and simply add a little more mayo to reduce the dryness.  Can’t hurt right?


Studies have shown that over grilling meats can produce cancer causing agents known as heterocyclic amines (HCA’s).  HCA’s get into our cells, latch onto our DNA and can create havoc when the cell multiplies.  When our DNA is damaged, mutations can occur which may eventually lead to cancer (an over-growth of abnormal cells).

However, there may be a way to reduce the amount of HCA’s which come from our BBQ…an antioxidant rich marinade! 

In a recent study from Kansas State University, they showed a significant reduction in HCA content of grilled meats by marinating the meats for 2 hours in a rosemary based marinade (rosemary has loads of antioxidants…use the fresh stuff!).  When I say significant, I mean significant!  The HCA concentration was reduced by almost 90% in some cases with the marinade!  So not only do you get to enjoy a tastier steak, you benefit from the drastic reduction in nasty HCA’s.

Check out this article for more information.

Tips to reduce HCA’s:

  • Use an antioxidant rich marinade!
  • Grill/fry/broil at lower temperatures to reduce charring
  • Trim the fat off meats to reduce drippings to minimize flare ups on the BBQ
  • Eat your meats with antioxidant rich veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Reduce your consumption of grilled meats
  • Don’t let yourself get distracted at the BBQ!

So go ahead and enjoy your BBQ season but be sure to learn some tasty and healthy marinades first!