The Paleo Diet.Eating the way we were meant to eat.

Grilling and the PAH emissions

Posted in Health, Real Food by eatingpaleo on August 12, 2009

I was at a picnic the other today, it was nothing planned really, but definitely  worth while.

I don’t know exactly how much I ate, but at the end of the day it’s irrelevant,  it was real food, to be more precise, it was pork meat bought from the market, that piece of meat was cut right in front of me. Marinated in pepper, vinegar, oil and all sort of condiments tossed in together.

Pork ribs

Pork ribs

And now that we are at the grilling subject. You know when they always say to eat grilled chicken breast, or grilled fish or whatever. This is technically the way you should eat, right?

Fraid` not

Besides the fact that I don’t agree with the “no fat” part that is promoted again and again and again (and again and again and again), the grill has always been looked at as a Godsent and that’s simply wrong. Have you ever heard of the emission of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ?

Here’s the catch: you know that delicious, crunchy little crust that is formed on top of the meat? (mmm…) well that’s carcinogenic.

The first study ever made regarding this subject was carried out by Lijunsky and Ross (1967). Yheir results showed that the levels of PAH in charcoal-grilled meat was dependent on the fat content and the closeness of the meat to the heat source.

They explained their findings by the theory that melted fat from the heated meat drips onto the coals and is pyrolyzed, giving rise to the formation of PAH, which were deposited on the meat surface as the smoke rises.

There you have it folks. Grilling isn’t as good as anybody will say it is. If you just have a barbecue once in a while, that’s fine, but don’t turn it into a everyday, or even every week habit ..

Here are 2 things that you can do:

  1. You can grill the meat into a vertical grill, this way the fat won’t drip onto the charcoal.
  2. (common sense really) Remove the burnt part as much as possible. This applies to everything grilled and fried. The burnt part is a no-no.

Consider these things the next time you’ll go at a barbecue.


Bonny K. Larsson, Greger P.Sahlberg, Anders T.Eriksson, and Leif A. Busk


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