Barbecuing on a charcoal grill is a tradition that has been going on for centuries. Not only does it allow us to eat deliciously grilled food, it is a good way of spending a warm summer's day with the family. However, a question that you should stop and ask yourself is: 'Is charcoal barbecuing bad for your health?'
If you are worried about your health and that of your family, you will take some time out to ponder on this question. When charcoal is burned, it releases hydrocarbons and minute soot particles. We all know that hydrocarbons are not environmentally friendly and are the leading cause of greenhouse effect. The soot particles also cause air pollution, but they can be instrumental in aggravating already existing lung problems and heart diseases.
While charcoal grilled meat tastes wonderful, it also contains two carcinogenic chemical compounds as a result of the grilling. These compounds are heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons. When you grill meat on charcoal, the fat drips on the burning embers. When this happens, the heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons are formed and they get deposited on the meat along with the smoke coming out of the charcoal. As the meat gets charred, the polycyclic hydrocarbons can form directly on the meat. The longer the meat is cooked on the grill, the more heterocyclic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons are formed on the meat. These chemical compounds have been linked to higher risk of getting cancers of the pancreas, colon and breast.
Some of the charcoal brands sold in the market also contain compounds like borax, coal dust, sodium nitrate, limestone and starch which get deposited on the meats that you grill. They can lead to several health complications in the long run.
While it is okay to have charcoal grilled meat once in a way, it is advisable not to consume it regularly if you want to lead a long and healthy life, and if you are worried about the environment. Also, when grilling meat on charcoal grills, make sure that you do not char the meat and avoid inhaling the fumes that rise from the grill.