Are Barbecues Bad for You?

Summer is fast approaching, and with the warmer weather on its way, grills across Australia will soon be coming out of hibernation ready for Barbecue Season! But is barbecuing bad for you? Read on to find out how you can get stuck into everyone’s favourite Aussie tradition, without sacrificing your health.

Who doesn’t love a barbecue? It's a great way to get your loved ones together over delicious food whilst safely enjoying our beautiful weather.

Red meat has been found to have links to cancer because of its carcinogenic properties, but despite what we may think, barbecues don’t have to mean overcooked burgers, burnt sausages and giant slabs of steak. There are lots of ways to still enjoy a barbecue without putting your health at risk.

Seafood Soiree!

Cooking up some tasty seafood at your barbecue will not only impress your guests, there is some evidence that increased fish consumption may contribute to a reduced risk of breast, prostate and bowel cancers.

Always try to include fish (preferably oily) in your diet at least twice a week.

Cooking fish on the BBQ is easy. The key is in selecting the right type of fish. Firm fish is best - try to opt for whole fish or thick steaks from the large deep sea varieties. Oil and season to taste and use a simple light marinade such as lemon and herbs. 

If cooking whole fish, wrap in foil (keeping the shiny side to the food). Your fish is cooked when it turns opaque and starts to flake when tested with a fork. 

For large fish allow 20-25 minutes per kilo on a low heat.

Very Tasty Veggies

Some vegetables were made for the barbie: corn, capsicum, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and of course, onions!

Vegetables look great on the plate and are a fantastic healthy option for your barbecue. Not only that, eating the recommended five vegetables a day is associated with lowering the risk of cancer.

Like meats, your cooking time for each vegetable will vary – the higher the water concentration in a vegetable, the faster it will cook.

To prevent your vegetables being burnt on the outside and raw in the middle, quickly sear the outside on a hotter part of the BBQ before moving it to a cooler section to continue cooking. 

Meat in Moderation

Despite the concerns about meat and cancer, it is important to bear in mind that lean red meat is a fantastic source of dietary iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein. With that in mind, it is recommended to consume no more 455g of cooked lean red meat per week. You should also avoid processed meats and burnt or charred meat. Instead, opt for lean cuts of meat and chicken, and include plenty of fish, plant-based foods and cereals in your diet.

If you're thinking of including meat at your barbecue, make sure you:

Choose lean, thick, even cuts of meat - Whilst a small amount of fat can be good for flavour, too much is unhealthy and can lead to BBQ flare ups.

Marinate with low salt and low sugar – Try to marinate your meat overnight or for a minimum of three hours before cooking. Some research has shown that marinating your meat may lower the risk of some cancers.

Avoid charring or burning your meat by cooking it on a low even heat – This will not only improve the taste but also reduce the risk of you consuming substances linked to the development of cancer.

The Final Touches

  • Don’t forget your sides - Adding a variety of fresh vegetables and salads has a huge variety of health benefits.  Try to include three different coloured vegetables in each meal.
  • Keep your salt and sugar intake to a minimum - This includes the use of processed tomato and BBQ sauces.
  • Make sure your barbecue is as healthy as the food you plan to cook -  Remove all previous fats and build-up before you start to cook. Don’t think that you can just burn off the old stuff – you may be adding unnecessary carcinogenic material to your food.
  • And of course, whenever you’re outside this summer, make sure you wear a hat, apply plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water!

All set to sizzle? Why not turn your barbie into a BarbeCURE!

Cure Cancer’s BarbeCURE campaign is a nationwide initiative designed to drive awareness and raise funds to support Australia’s brightest early-career cancer researchers as they work towards finding a cure. 

BarbeCURE not only raises much-needed funds for cancer research, it also raises awareness of the importance of consuming a balanced diet and avoiding processed meats and burnt or charred foods. Over the past 4 years, BarbeCURE has raised an incredible $839,000 for innovative cancer research! Help us reach $1 million to continue funding the next generation of brilliant scientists.

To get involved, all you need to do is turn your next barbie into a BarbeCURE. Be it big, small or virtual, host a classic Aussie barbecue to raise money for life-saving cancer research.

Sign up today:

Want to help Cure Cancer? Simply make a donation and support lifesaving cancer research across all cancer types today.

DONATE today.




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