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Summer is peak grilling season, and it’s one of my favorite things to do at home when family and friends come over. If you’ve read about potential health risks associated with grilling, like exposure to carcinogens and advanced glycation end products (AGEs), it can seem discouraging. However, if you arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge, there’s really no need to worry. In this blog, I’ve compiled my best advice to help you eliminate any potential health risks and get back to the “thrill of the grill”. As you’ll soon learn, it all starts with marinating! Grilling can be made healthy.
First up, let’s tackle a topic I cover extensively in my book, Radical Longevity, and that’s AGEs. These molecules clump together and accumulate in the liver and other tissues, causing inflammation and oxidative damage throughout your body.
AGEs formation in the body has a number of origins, but diet is a big factor. Simply put, how you cook your food is just as important as what you cook. High and dry methods of cooking (like grilling and sautéing) yield much higher levels of AGEs than slow and wet methods like steaming. But, the good news is, there’s a simple fix. In this article, I share what AGEs are, where they come from, and how you can easily reduce them.
Nothing says outdoor fun more than a cookout! However, health-wise, the oxidative reaction of charcoal grilling (a combination of browning and charring) is somewhat toxic. Food can also soak up added chemicals from charcoal briquettes.
Therefore, if you’re a charcoal fan, please be sure to trim off any charred, burned, or blackened portions of your food. Gas grilling is another option, especially if you have no sensitivity to hydrocarbons, the by-products of gas combustion.
The safest way to protect your food from harmful substances formed during the grilling process is to marinate, marinate—and then marinate some more! Research shows marinades can reduce carcinogen production as much as 99%.
Non-GMO, gluten-free dark beer makes one of the best marinades. I’m also a fan of foregoing the standard oil component for bone broth because of concerns with heating the oil so much (see video above for more details).
Or, if you do use oil, combine about 1 cup of avocado oil with 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar seasoned with some of your favorite herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, and thyme. For a sweeter marinade, you can add a little stevia or monk fruit sweetener. Remember to use extra caution with ground meat, which is more subject to oxidation than whole meat, so cook it as soon as possible.
HOW you cook is just as important as WHAT you cook – if you want to turn back the clock on aging.
It doesn’t matter how many miles you run, how much muscle you build, or how much you starve yourself – if your cooking methods are adding to your toxic load, your skin will sag, your tissues will clump together, and your cells will age prematurely.
Renowned nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author, Ann Louise Gittleman shares some keen insight on healthy grilling habits, and the secret to avoiding common mistakes that produce toxic materials when you grill.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention another toxin that often goes hand-in-hand with grilling. And, that's aluminum foil. In this fascinating episode of the First Lady of Nutrition Podcast, my guest Dr. Bill McGraw and I uncover the little-known history of aluminum toxicity, its biological effects over the decades, and its connection to various diseases today.
“This book is chock full of the latest research on aging and it gives the readers a hopeful, uplifting message. You can control how you age through attention to hormones, diet, exercise, and targeted supplements.” – Amazon CustomerLEARN MORE
These are some of my favorite marinade recipes. You’ll notice I tend to rely on avocado oil here because it does so well with high heat. But, as I mentioned in the video above, I’ve also started forgoing oil and using bone broth instead. Then, you can add oil at the end of cooking for a nice finish.