The brouhaha over whether or not grilling is unhealthy comes from two compounds formed during grilling: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) PAHs are formed when fat drips into the flames and causes flareups. These flareups result in PAHs deposited in the meat. HCAs are found in the charred parts of grilled meats (due to cooking at a very high temperature). Why worry about these chemicals? Both have been linked to cancer in animal studies and both are on the Department of Health’s list of carcinogens. As with all studies, one needs to ask the question: How much? How much HCAs and PAHs are bad for us? The answer is not quite clear, but one thing we know for sure works: Moderation. Enjoy your cookout but don’t have one every day. Also, see below for tips on how to keep the PAH and HCA levels lower. That way you can enjoy your cookout even more. Grill lean: Grill lean meats so less fat will drip down. Marinate: Marinating has been found to decrease HCA levels. Choose low-sugar marinades as high-sugar versions have been found to increase levels. Decrease grilling time: Choose medium or rarer over well done. Flip often: This helps reduce charring and burning. No char: Cut charred pieces off the meat. Use foil: Place it under the meat to catch the drippings. Add spices to the meat: Several spices have been found to decrease HCA and PAH levels when grilling: Rosemary, basil, thyme, sage, oregano, turmeric, onion powder and garlic Grill fruits and vegetables! Eating them can help fight any damage from PAHs or HCAs. Plus, grilling fruits and vegetables does not form either chemical.