COOKING METHODS TO PREVENT CANCER PART 2
By: Sarah Koontz, RD (Nutrition Education Coordinator)
For meat, avoid high temperatures: Grilling, broiling or cooking meat at high temperatures produces carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds can damage our DNA and may increase the risk for cancer. For cancer prevention, the best way to prepare meat is to cook at lower temperatures. Next time you cook meat, try roasting in the oven or making a flavorful stew.
Marinate your meats: Some evidence suggests that marinating meat with herbs and spices before grilling may cut down on possible carcinogens. Emerging research suggests that herbs and spices may also play a role in cancer prevention, and oh, what flavor! For example, rosemary contains a phytochemical called carnosol that may inhibit tumor growth. This time of year is also a great time to start an herb garden!
For fruits and vegetables, cook with its skin on: The skin of fruits and vegetables are packed with cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Although you still will get plenty of nutrients and phytochemicals if you peel your vegetables and fruits, the colorful skins are often densely packed with protective compounds, some often only found in the skin. For example, zucchini skin is loaded with lutein, an antioxidant. And if you eat an apple with its skin you’ll get about 75% more quercetin, a major cancer-fighting flavonoid, than a peeled apple.
Don’t waterlog your veggies: Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins C, folate and niacin are just that – they easily dissolve in water. Boiling vegetables for a long time causes these vitamins (as well as some cancer-fighting phytochemicals) to leach into the water, which you will probably pour down the drain. To maximize nutrients, try steaming, oven roasting, or stir-frying. If you want to boil, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and boil for a few minutes only until your veggies are soft and the water evaporates.
Source: AICR, March 2013.