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Make Your BBQ Healthier in Five Steps!

Grilling is a fun way to cook foods – but isn’t always the healthiest preparation method. Learn how to make your BBQ habits healthier, while still delivering the taste that makes grilling so delicious!


It's delightful to grill outdoors when the weather is warm. Unfortunately, grilling meats can lead to the production of carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing) chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HAs) as well as unhealthy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The good news is it is simple to reduce both of these, making your BBQ healthier yet still as tasty for you, your family and your guests.

 

  1. Limit the quantity of meat you grill, and make grilled vegetables or wild Alaskan salmon the main course.
  2. Pre-cook your foods in the oven or on the stovetop and finish them off outdoors - less grill time means fewer carcinogens.
  3. If you do grill meat, cook it thoroughly, but avoid charring or blackening it (don't eat any blackened parts).
  4. Marinate your meats. Marinade may help reduce HA formation, especially if it's made with spices such as ginger, rosemary and turmeric.
  5. Avoid charcoal lighter fluid or self-starting packages of briquettes in a charcoal grill - they will leave residues of toxic chemicals in your food. A healthy alternative is an inexpensive chimney lighter that uses a small amount of newspaper to ignite a mass of charcoal in a large metal cylinder. Gas grills are good alternatives to those that use charcoal.


Click through to see our Healthy Grilling Visual Guide!

Outdoor Workout, Better Results

Engaging in outdoor exercise may be an effective strategy for midlife women who want to become more active - a small Canadian study found that women who did outdoor workouts attended more sessions than those who exercised indoors and exhibited greater tranquility afterward. Sticking to the program wasn't the only benefit - the researchers at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Quebec reported that women who exercised outdoors showed fewer depressive symptoms than the indoor group. They also tended to become more active in their daily lives, while those who exercised indoors didn't change their activity levels during the three-month course of the study. All 23 women participating in the study were in their 50s or 60s and were sedentary prior to joining the study. The researchers assigned the women at random to outdoor or indoor exercise groups. Both groups met three times per week for sessions that included aerobic exercise and strength training. Before and after their workouts, the women were asked about their moods and how tiring they found the workouts. The researchers reported that on average, the women who exercised outdoors had a greater sense of tranquility after their sessions than did the women who exercised indoors. All told, the outdoor exercise participants attended 97 percent of the 36 sessions compared to 91 percent attendance in the indoor group.

My take? I have always found outdoor exercise to be much more enjoyable than indoor workouts. Nature provides better visual stimulation - particularly when you're exercising in pleasant surroundings, such as in a park or the countryside. You also get the benefit of fresh air and sunshine, which always makes me feel more cheerful and energetic. In addition to physical benefits, just spending time in nature itself has a measurable positive influence on health. Time outdoors can lower levels of cortisol, the hormone that rises when we're under stress. It can also lower blood pressure and pulse rate and trigger a dramatic increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells, important components of our immune defenses against infection and cancer.

How Much Does Smog Affect You? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed air pollution and how smog affects your health: What's So Bad About Smog? Check out the article and let us know how much smog and air pollution affect your daily life and health.