It is meat season! And we shall remind ourselves of how best to handle our meat preparation.
The carcinogenicity of meat has been assigned to the type of meat consumed (red or processed), the method of cooking, the quantity consumed and the individual genetic risk. What I am saying is that the likelihood of meat as a risk factor of cancer depends on your choice of method of cooking the meat among other factors.
The dangers attributable to meat consumption often arise from the methods employed in the preparation and processing of the meat. The common methods of meat preparation include roasting, baking, grilling, broiling, simmering, poaching, stewing, pan-frying, stir-frying and deep-frying.
Poaching (60-82°C), stewing (71-82°C), simmering (85-95°C), roasting and baking (149-218°C), grilling (190-232°C) and broiling (not same as boiling) –(260-288°C), all occur at different ranges of temperature.
Meat cooked at high temperatures can create chemical reactions leading to high levels of harmful compounds. When meat is cooked at high temperature as the case in grilling, oven broiling, panfrying or deep fat-frying, it leads to a maillard reaction between different compounds in meat(amino acid, sugar and creatine), thereby, forming carcinogens called heterocyclic amines(HCAs).
Also, N-nitroso compounds are found when meat is processed by curing and/or smoking. When fat and juices from meat drip onto the fire of a grill causing flames, the flames contain another carcinogen- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). The PAHs then stick to the surface of the meat. This also happens during smoking of meats. All these compounds have been linked to several types of cancer.
My counsel from a health standpoint therefore: Moist heat methods such as poaching, stewing, simmering, boiling and pressure cooking even though may cause loss of B vitamins, are better than the other dry heat and fat cooking methods of meat preparation. Because they take place at lower temperature, they produce fewer of the toxic substances if at all.
Employ healthy cooking methods and do invite me for a feast.
(I am sorry if this is too long, this is the length that could make a minimal sense).
Written by Adesanjo Oyejide, a Clinical nutritionist and registered Dietitian. he can be reached via email; firstname.lastname@example.org