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Summertime Cooking, The Healthy Way with Elaine Magee, RD

Enjoy the joys of summer -- and stay healthy too!


Member question: Is grilling meat healthier than frying as far as fat is concerned? The fat drips through the grill instead of staying in a pan, so it seems like you're going to end up eating less fat. True?

Magee: It depends. I would tell people to start off with a lean cut of meat anyway so that way there really isn't that much fat to lose. I think the answer to your question is yes, in grilling, fat would drip away from the meat if you had a fattier cut of meat with visible fat. But if you have a fattier cut of meat that you're grilling and the fat is dripping down into the flames, some potential cancer or carcinogens make their way back up into the meat through flames and smoke.

Member question: Just how much cancer risk is there when you grill meats?

Magee: That's a hard one to answer. Do I still grill meat? Yeah, I do, once a week or so. Have your grilled meat with lots of fruits and vegetables. That way you're getting plenty of antioxidants at the same time. And if you start off with a lean meat you will get less fat dripping off and fewer carcinogens making their way back to the meat. Also, if you cook with indirect heat you minimize that risk because the flame isn't in contact with the meat.

Member question: I have a great Middle Eastern flavored marinade I use on the grill for kabobs, but it calls for a half-cup of oil. That seems like a lot. Just how much can I cut back on the oil to lighten up the marinade? Or is the type of oil I use more important than the amount?

Magee: With half a cup of oil, I would probably try to cut that back to a quarter cup at first and see if that seems to work. I would then try 3 tablespoons or so. I probably wouldn't go lower than 3 tablespoons, and I would definitely switch to a smarter-fat oil, such as canola oil or olive oil. Now, which one to choose, olive oil or canola oil? That would depend on whether or not you wanted the taste of olive oil, because canola oil has a neutral taste. But to answer your question about which is most important I would say both. I would say using less oil and using a better oil.

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