Carrot and leek burgersFor many Canadians, warmer means barbecuing and relaxing in the sunshine with friends. The Canadian Cancer Society encourages you to take a healthier approach to your barbecued spread and reduce exposure to cancer-causing substances.

A diet high in red meat or any processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Research also shows that cooking meat, poultry and fish at high temperatures (by frying, broiling or barbecuing) creates chemicals that may increase your cancer risk.

Try grilling vegetables, veggie burgers and fruit slices. Most experts agree that plant-based foods do not form the cancer-causing substances when cooked at high heat.

If you do barbecue meat this summer, here are a couple of simple tips you can follow to reduce your exposure to cancer-causing chemicals:

  • Marinate meat, poultry and fish in vinegar or lemon juice and your favourite herbs before cooking. Studies have shown that marinating these foods can reduce the formation of cancer-causing chemicals. When barbecuing, opt for lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood. Trim off visible fat to avoid flare-ups on the grill.
  • Barbecue slowly and keep the food away from the hot coals so that flames are less likely to engulf the food to prevent charring.
  • Try to limit the amount of red meat you eat per week to 3 servings – one serving is 85 grams and, when cooked, is smaller than a deck of cards.

Be sure to give your barbeque a boost by making a selection of salads with a mixture of vegetables and whole grains.

Always remember to practise sun safety while you’re barbecuing and enjoying the nice warm weather!

Article contributed by Elizabeth Holmes, MPH from Canadian Cancer Society

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