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Studies have shown grilling meat over high heat can up your chances of cancer—here’s one delicious way to reduce the risk.

Jaime Ritter
May 23, 2018

There are few things better than grilling outside when the weather warms up, but if you’re cooking your meat at a high temperature (who isn’t?), there’s a chance you consuming unwanted carcinogens (read: substances that can lead to cancer).

Here’s how (bear with me, ‘cause I’m about to nerd out): Grilling meat can form compounds called HCAs and PAHs, both of which, according to the National Cancer Institute, cause changes in DNA that may increase your cancer risk.

According to them, HCAs form when the amino acids and creatinine (substances found in muscle) from meat—such as fish, beef, pork, or chicken—react at high temps.

Meanwhile, PAHs form when fat drips from the meat down into the grill and creates smoke. That smoke circulates around your meat and could deposit carcinogenic compounds on whatever you’re grilling. PAHs can also form during other types of high-heat cooking, like smoking or pan-frying.

RELATED: Eat These 8 Cancer-Fighting Foods for Major Health Benefits

The bottom line: If you’re cooking your meat at high temps—especially ones over 300 degrees—you could be putting yourself at a greater risk of consuming carcinogens.

So, how can you enjoy your dang hamburger in peace, you ask? It turns out, adding rosemary to your meat could help slash your cancer risk.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Healthy Grilling

Rosemary boasts certain antioxidants that can help prevent the formation of HCAs. One study from the University of Arkansas showed that rosemary extract could reduce HCA levels by anywhere from 30 to 100 percent. Pretty cool, right?

So, the next time you want to grill—and reduce your risk of carcinogens—opt for recipes like our Olive Oil-Basted Grass-Fed Strip Steak with Rosemary, Lemon-Rosemary Grilled Chicken and Leeks, or our Rosemary Shrimp Scampi Skewers.