I’ve said for years that foods need to be eaten as close to raw as possible if you want to get the maximum amount of nutrients. The "closer to raw" rule doesn’t just apply to vegetables — but to meat and eggs as well.
But the key difference between overcooked veggies and overcooked meats is that over-doing veggies makes them flavorless and nutritionally bereft, while overcooking meat makes it flavorless… and dangerous. The possible carcinogenic effects of overcooking meat and eggs are fairly well documented.
Cooking eggs and meat at high temperatures produces a chemical compound called PhIP, which many believe can cause DNA changes, or can metabolize harmless bodily enzymes into carcinogens — especially those that cause breast cancer.
Now, a new report by researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center claims that regular consumption of well-done, charred meats could boost the risk of pancreatic cancer by a frightening 60 percent.
This new research indicated that overcooking also created heterocyclic amines (H.A.s), which contribute to increased risk of pancreatic cancer, an especially lethal cancer. H.A.s are generated by the high-temperature immolation of amino acids.
The researchers suggested maintaining low heat while grilling, frying or barbecuing in order to cut down on "excess burning or charring of the meat." Doing so will help cut down on the cancer risk, since the burned portions have the highest HA concentrations.
This is something you should keep in mind before you fire up the backyard barbeque. But by all means, don’t let it stop you from eating meat. You just need to think twice about how long you cook it.