Fried meat is considered unhealthy.
Some scientific evidence confirms this to be true, which is why current dietary guidelines advise focusing on other cooking methods and less on frying.
However, “less often” does not mean “never”. From time to time, you can enjoy a barbecue and cook a cutlet in a pan. In addition, following certain rules will help reduce the harm of fried meat.
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Our articles are written with love for evidence-based medicine. We refer to authoritative sources and go to doctors with a good reputation for comments. But remember: you and your doctor are responsible for your health. We do not write recipes, we make recommendations. Rely on our point of view or not – you decide.
What is known about the dangers of fried meat
Heterocyclic amines are formed from amino acids and sugars when a piece of meat is heated to a high temperature – for example, when grilled or fried. Fats are also oxidized at high temperatures.
The synthesis of aromatic hydrocarbons requires smoke, which occurs when melted fat and meat juice drip on an open fire or hot surface.
At high doses, these compounds cause cancer in experimental animals. It is true that in such studies doses of substances were used that were many times higher than their content in food.
In any case, if they have a negative effect on the animal body, there is a possibility that there is danger for us. Some observational studies in humans support the association of well-cooked meat with prostate, pancreatic, and colon cancers, while others do not.
There is also evidence that eating fried foods, including meat, can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. At the same time, lovers of fried foods generally eat less vegetables, fruits, whole grains and drink more beverages that contain more fiber. That is, such an effect may be related to malnutrition in general, and not just excess fries.
Also, people who frequently eat fried foods, including meat, get more saturated fats and trans fats, which can also affect heart health.
Finally, frequent consumption of fried foods is associated with the risk of overweight and obesity. Fried foods have more calories and fat than cooked ones. the same ingredients, but in other ways.
For example, 100 grams of baked potatoes have 93 calories and no fat while the same A serving of French fries contains 312 calories and 14.7 grams of fat. In fried beef from 196 calories and 15.8 grams of fat, depending on the initial fat content of the meat. Boiled has 126 calories and just over 3 grams of fat.
How much fried meat can you eat?
That is, you should not completely remove fried foods, including meat, from your diet – especially for those who love it. It is better to simply limit the amount of fries, partially replacing these foods with healthier alternatives.
For example, to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet, the WHO recommends cooking and cooking food more often than frying. It is also worthwhile to partially replace red meat with fish and other sources of protein, such as legumes, and add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.
According to international dietary recommendations, approximately ¾ of the food consumed should be vegetables and whole grains, only ¼ – protein foods and among them fish and poultry should be preferred.
In other words, fried meat should not be excluded, but should not be the basis of the diet. In addition, there are some ways to reduce the potential for harmful substances in fried meat – we will discuss them below.
How to reduce the potential damage to fried meat
Marinate the meat before frying. The formation of heterocyclic amines does not go well in an acidic environment. And pre-treatment with acid makes the meat softer, which reduces the time of its heat treatment: this also reduces the concentration of potentially harmful substances. The more acidic the marinade, the more effectively it prevents the formation of unwanted compounds.
Many liquids used in marinades, such as wine, lemon or berry juice, contain antioxidants. These substances inhibit the oxidation of fats and the formation of heterocyclic amines. Acidic marinades with antioxidants have been shown to have a dual beneficial effect.
However, you can use acid-free marinades. Non-acidic liquids rich in antioxidants, such as green tea or beer, may also be suitable for pre-processing meat.
You can choose any marinade recipe for flavor based on vinegar, wine, beer, lemon or berry juice, fermented dairy products, green tea. The exposure time of the meat in the marinade is from one hour to 24 hours – the longer, the better.
For example, you can use turmeric. Clove, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, paprika work well. There are indications for the positive effects of thyme and sumac. Of the peppers, pink is the best.
That is, you can add any ground spices of your taste to the meat marinade or grate the meat with them before marinating.
Reduce the cooking temperature and reduce the frying time. The higher the cooking temperature, the more potentially harmful compounds are formed in the meat.
To reduce the temperature, you should avoid contact of the meat with an open fire and fry on the stove over medium heat. If you can accurately control the cooking temperature, then it is better to put it 160-200 degrees.
The meat can be fried quickly and then prepared in other ways. Prepared meat must not be charred. The longer the frying time and the higher the temperature of the frying surface, the darker the crust and the more potentially toxic compounds the cooked product contains. If charred areas have formed on the barbecue, it is best to remove them and not eat them.
You turn the meat often. When the meat is left on one side in the pan for a long time – more than five minutes – or turned on one side on the fire, it heats up a lot. And the higher the cooking temperature, the more heterocyclic amines are formed and the fat is oxidized more.
Frequent turning of the meat reduces the temperature inside the piece without the need to change the heat level.
It is better to fry the meat over medium heat and turn it every minute. The internal temperature of a piece or cutlet with this approach will be about 70 degrees, which is enough for frying, but not enough for the formation of potentially harmful ingredients.
Protect the meat from smoke. In the melting of fat and juice dripping on burning coals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed. Together with the tobacco they climb into the meat and penetrate into it.
Therefore, the coals should be placed on the sides of the meat skewers and not directly under them. Do not make sauces from meat juice left in a pan or pan.
Before frying, heat the meat in the microwave. Heating the meat in the microwave partially destroys the compounds that make it up. As a result, the amount of heterocyclic amines during frying will be reduced by 3-9 times – there will be fewer substances in the meat from which they are formed.
This method is also suitable for minced meat or ready-made meatballs. Before frying, they should be placed in the microwave for two minutes. The juice that is released must be drained and then the meat must be cooked according to the selected recipe.
Fry in the right oil. For frying, you should choose fats and oils that are stable at high temperatures and less oxidized, which means they emit fewer potentially dangerous chemicals. Suitable sunflower oil, olive, soy, corn oil.
It is also better to use refined oils because unrefined oils are less stable and start to smoke and burn at a lower temperature.
It is best to change the frying oil and not heat it too many times, and also to avoid overheating during cooking: the oil in the pan should be well heated, but not smoking or catching fire.