Is Cooked Meat Damaging Your DNA?

It may seem completely natural to eat cooked meat: mankind has most likely been eating it since they learned how to create and control fire. However, cooking meat can potentially trigger an increase of carcinogens and cancer-inducing chemicals. Thankfully, there are some alternatives to giving up meat entirely. Read on to learn more about cooked meat's drawbacks and how you can avoid them.

The Problems With Cooked Meat

Cooking meat produces carcinogens, which is a substance that can damage your cell's DNA, affecting its ability to properly replicate and resulting in mutation. This damage won't occur from eating one steak, but consuming carcinogens regularly over the years can increase the risk. Damaged DNA and mutated cells can lead to cancer.

Meat cooked at high temperatures also produces the chemicals heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as HCA and PAH respectively. Studies have found that people who ate meat cooked at high temperatures (like a well-done steak) had higher rates of colon cancer and breast cancer.

Change Your Cooking Methods

You can decrease the amount of the dangerous byproducts in cooked meat by cooking it gently over low heat. If you're not a fan of rare steaks, try using beer: meat marinated in beer and other types of marinades for at least six hours and then cooked over high heat had up to 90% fewer HCAs than unmarinated meat.

The Raw Alternative

You can also eliminate the problem of high-heat cooking completely by eating your meat and fish raw. When prepared safely and promptly served, raw food is a delicious alternative and a nice way of taking an exotic break from cooked meat. Here are three popular varieties:

  • Sashimi - This is a type of sushi that focuses on the flavor of the fish, so no rice is used. Sashimi is thin slices of the freshest and highest-quality fish and shellfish, either served plain or garnished with soy sauce, green onion or wasabi.
  • Ceviche - This dish originates from South America and uses a method of "cooking" the food by marinating it in fruit juice. The citric acid in the juice tenderizes the meat and imbues it with citrus flavor. Recipes differ, but ceviche is commonly made with fish, lime and lemon juice, onion and chilies.
  • Carpaccio - This dish hails from Italy and is can be made out of beef, veal, and various kinds of fish. The slices look like thin sashimi, because they're pounded until tender. Preparation varies, but they're usually marinated in a citrus juice, olive oil and vinegar.

Remember, raw meals should always be prepared right before eating and should come from a reputable restaurant (such as Water Front Bar And Grill) that's known for its raw meals and has passed all of its safety inspections.

By changing your cooking habits and enjoying raw meals you can eat delicious food while minimizing the dangerous chemicals you ingest.