Here are some tips to have a healthier grilling experience. Enjoy!

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 1: Bold ingredients add great flavor to grilling sauces and marinades.

You can add bold flavors without adding too many calories or fat grams. Here are some of my favorite ingredients for sauces and marinades:

  • Worcestershire sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 30 calories, 0 grams fat, 390 mg sodium
  • Chili sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 40 calories, 0 grams fat, and 960 milligrams sodium
  • Tamari sauce (less-sodium type): 2 tablespoons contain 20 calories, 0 grams fat, 1150 mg sodium

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 2: Throw some vegetables on the grill

Just coat the vegetables ever so lightly with a little olive oil and put them on the grill  The trick to grilling vegetables is cutting them into shapes and sizes that cook well on the grill. When you cook them over direct medium heat, turning frequently, they’ll usually be done in 8-10 minutes.

These vegetables work especially well on the grill.

  • Red, Yellow andOrangePeppers
  • Whole mushrooms.
  • Eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.
  • Zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.
  • Asparagus spears. Just trim off the white end and grill the spears whole.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 3: When grilling chicken, take the skin off — take it all off!

  • Half the fat and saturated fat in chicken breast and thigh is in the skin, which is why so many of us enjoy our chicken skinless.

But if you cook your chicken with the skin on, then take it off at the dinner table, you’ll lose all the flavor from your marinade, BBQ sauce, or rubs and seasonings. So go ahead and take the skin off before you prepare the chicken for grilling.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 4: Use the leanest cuts of beef and pork and trim any visible fat before cooking.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 5: Be sensible about servings.

Encourage eating smaller portions by grilling the meat in smaller portions, such as:

  • Thin slices of larger cuts of meat (such whole pork tenderloin, roasts, etc). Let the meat rest 10 minutes after cooking, then slice before serving to family or guests.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 6: Lower potential cancer risks associated with grilling.

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are substances formed on the surface of well-done meat cooked at high temperatures. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recently concluded that the evidence that these two substances increase the risk of cancer in humans is “limited but suggestive.”

PAHs, in particular, come from smoke, which is formed when fat drips from meat onto the grill. “Technically, anything that spends any time around smoke will contain some level of PAHs,” explains Glen Weldon, head of education and communications at the AICR. The good news is many of the grilling suggestions in the first eight tips help reduce your intake of these two substances.

But what you grill is perhaps more important than how often you grill. A recently published AICR report concluded that diets high in red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and especially processed meats are a “convincing: cause of colorectal cancer.”

Keep in mind that grilling vegetables and fruit produces negligible HCAs or PAHs. In fact, diets that are high in plant foods in general are associated with a reduced risk of several cancers.

Here are a few grilling suggestions to reduce your cancer risk:

  • Include garlic and onions in the marinade may also help reduce HCA formation on cooked meat.
  • Select leaner cuts (and trim any visible fat), to prevent dripping fat from causing flare-ups, which may deposit carcinogens on the meat.
  • Flip the meat on the grill often. This will help reduce the amount of carcinogens that are potentially deposited on the meat.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 7: Just say no to processed meat.

Processed meats include hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, and cold cuts, among others.  Thes increase you risk of colorectal cancer.

 Adapted from Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the “Recipe Doctor” for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.  Published May 23, 2008.