3 Ways to Have a Guilt-Free Barbecue

Medically reviewed in October 2021

Go ahead. Fire up the grill and feast to your heart's content on your favorite barbecue fare. Just use these prep-and-cook methods to healthy up things first.

Rethink your marinade: Rather than drown meats in spices and high-fat oils, make fruit juice, vinegar, or wine the focus of your marinades. Going light on the oil but heavy on the spices and acids will add plenty of moist flavor to your grilled meats without all the extra calories. Plus, marinated meats produce far fewer carcinogenic by-products during high-heat cooking.

Make over your burgers: Might sound strange, but tart cherries make for juicier, tastier, more healthful burgers. Just mix one-third cup of chopped tart cherries into a pound of ground turkey or beef before forming your patties for the grill. Your burgers will not only have less fat but also produce 90 percent fewer heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs)—carcinogenic by-products that form during high-heat cooking.

Turn down the grill: Here's a more direct method for cutting down on those unhealthy grilling by-products: Turn down the heat. And cook the low-and-slow way. This helps curb the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), troublesome little compounds that can age you faster and shorten your lifespan. Use a thermometer to make sure you've cooked your meat to a safe internal temperature.

Ready to fire up the grill? Check out these tips on how to make healthy barbeque dishes.

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