6 Ways to Serve Healthy Food at Your Summer Barbecue

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Barbecuing is a summertime favorite for many. It’s a great way to socialize with friends, enjoy the sunshine and, of course, eat delicious food. Unfortunately, grilling can often be pretty unhealthy. Many Americans turn to meats that are high in fat when grilling, according to Web MD. The other issue with grilling involves a couple of potential cancer-causing compounds (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines.) PAHs form when fat from the meat drips on the coals or grill, and are then deposited on the food thanks to rising smoke and flame ups. Further, the delicious charred taste many grillers love also contains PAHs. HCAs, on the other hand, are produced when red meat, poultry, and fish are cooked using high heat (read: grilling.)

But there’s no need to put an end to your summer barbecues. Instead, follow these six tips to ensure your grilled food isn’t harming your health.

1. Use a marinade

Health writes that a 2008 study found spicy marinades can help decrease the formation of HCAs, thanks to the many antioxidants found in spices. One study found that adding go-to spices, such as thyme, sage, and garlic helped reduce the amount of total HCAs by 60 percent.

Looking for the spice that will fight the most HCAs? Rosemary. Health writes that high concentrations of the spice may reduce HCAs by up to 90 percent. If you’re looking for a delicious recipe that uses a healthy sauce, try making spicy southern barbecued chicken, per American Kidney Fund. This recipe makes six servings (one-half of a chicken breast or two small drumsticks) and has 176 calories per serving.


  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger, grated

Directions: Combine all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a saucepan. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.

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