Carcinogen Free Choices: Baked vs Grilled Foods

There is much concern about the carcinogen found in grilled foods and baked goodies. Unfortunately, findings have concluded that baking can promote the formation of harmful acrylamide, which can cause cancer. In fact, any food that goes through high heat can produce some form of carcinogens.

Carcinogens in Baked Foods

Baking foods often produces acrylamide. This is especially true when baking carbohydrate or starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and corn. Acrylamide is a substance capable of causing mutations of cells inside the body, which can eventually lead to cancer. Many studies have linked acrylamide to cancer formation in many laboratory animals. When these harmful substances accumulate inside the body over a period of time, certain cancers can develop, like breast cancer, rectal cancer and colon cancer, among many others.

Carcinogens in Grilled Foods

The carcinogens often present in grilled foods are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PCAs, heterocyclic amines or HCAs and benz pyrenes. Benz pyrenes are found in the charred portions of grilled meat. Nitrosamines are also formed when grilling foods that contain nitrates such as hotdogs. Accumulation of these carcinogenic substances in the body can increase the risk of a person developing cancer later on.

Avoid Carcinogens during Baking

Baking foods rich in carbohydrate produces harmful substances like acrylamide. The longer carbohydrates are exposed to high heat, the more acrylamide is formed. You can avoid serving your family harmful substances when baking foods by avoiding longer baking times. You can bake foods until they’re golden brown, because the darker baked foods are, the more acrylamide they contain.

Avoid Carcinogens during Grilling

There are many ways to avoid carcinogen formation during grilling. Vegetables and some fruits can be grilled for a short time, and they can retain their nutrients after cooking. You can also choose to grill lean meats with very little fat in them to avoid formation of PCAs and HCAs. Avoid overcooking beef, chicken and fish, in order to avoid charring them. And if possible, avoid eating any charred portions at all. You can also grill thinner and smaller slices of meat so they cook faster and have shorter exposure to high heat.

Foods either baked or grilled can generally have some form of carcinogen in them. But, with proper meal preparations and cooking, their presence can be minimized. By adding fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious food products during meal times, you and your family can avail of healthy and balanced meals everyday. Don’t let carcinogens take over your family’s love for eating meals together. Remember, that there are vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants in other food groups which you can combine with your favorite baked and grilled foods for a delicious meal experience.


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