The Anti-Cancer Barbecue

Healthy grilling recipes that help cut your disease risk.

Mexican Burger (Photo: Lisa Hubbard)

436mg sodium

Grilled Pineapple and Banana with Spiced Yogurt Dip

Why it’s good for you:

  • Pineapple and banana: A recent study linked a high lifetime intake of smoked or grilled meat with an increased risk of breast cancer — and found that women who had the highest intake of fruits and veggies and the lowest intake of meat had the lowest breast cancer risk. "We don’t know for sure, but it may be that the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have a protective effect against the carcinogens in overcooked meat," says Susan Steck, PhD, lead researcher of the study and a research assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
  • Yogurt: Aside from the huge hit of calcium you get from yogurt (8 ounces of low-fat yogurt contain one-third of the recommended daily intake), certain blends also contain live probiotics, good bacteria that can help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as bloating, gas, and cramping, Gerbstadt says. Look for yogurts with labels that say "contains live cultures"; the heating process can wipe out the good bacteria in some products.
  • Bananas: All that calcium you’re getting from the yogurt gets a power boost when you pair it with potassium, which bananas have in bunches. That’s because potassium may actually help prevent the loss of calcium, which helps reduce your risk for osteoporosis. Bananas are also a good source of B6, which helps fight infection and creates serotonin (a mood-regulating neurotransmitter).

Serves 4 (1 banana, 2 pineapple slices, and 1/4 cup dip per serving)


1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

3/4 pound fresh pineapple (about 1/2 small)

4 small bananas (about 1 pound total)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon honey to drizzle on fruit (optional)

1. Make the dip: In a bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, honey and lemon zest. Set aside.

2. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Halve pineapple lengthwise, and remove tough core, leaving outer skin intact. Slice crosswise into 8 equal pieces, and set aside. Slice bananas lengthwise, leaving the skin on. Combine orange juice and oil, and brush generously on both sides of the bananas and the pineapple slices. Sprinkle both sides of the pineapple slices and the non-skin side of banana with cinnamon. Grill the fruit about 5 minutes on each side (including the skin side of banana). Transfer to a plate (with or without the skins) and drizzle with honey. Serve with yogurt dip.

Nutritional Analysis

Per serving:

215 calories

4.4g protein

49.2g carbs

2g total fat

7g saturated fat

4.4g fiber

38.8mg sodium

Is There Any Safe Way to Grill?

Most of us use a meat thermometer to avoid undercooking, but it will also help prevent overcooking, which may cause cancer. A study published last year in Epidemiology found that postmenopausal women with a high intake of smoked or grilled meat had a 47 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. The researchers attribute some of the higher risk to the fact that carcinogens known as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are formed when meat is well done and cooked at high temperature. Here’s how to lower your risk.

Marinate the meat. Marinades that contain honey, lemon, garlic, or onion can help reduce the formulation of HCAs. Researchers theorize that the sulfur compounds and antioxidants in these ingredients slow the formation of HCAs. Marinating meat also adds moisture, which may help reduce burning and HCA formation.

Cook, but don’t overcook. Regardless of whether meat looks or tastes well done or rare, carcinogens begin to form at an internal temperature above 212 degrees, so the best way to determine doneness is to use a meat thermometer. Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees and chicken or turkey breasts to 170 degrees.

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