The Beer Diet

Health advice for those of us who enjoy tipping back a few brews...
or sometimes a few too many!

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Gary's Natural Health Blog

To fully enjoy drinking beer for as long as you can, you have to take good care of your body.
And that's best done the natural way.

Grilling for Dummies

 By Gary Greenberg 
  SuperWriter, Inc.

    Like the rest of the seasons, summer is an ideal time to drink beer. Unlike some of the other seasons, summer is also the best time to fire up the grill.
Joshua Bernstein
Joshua Bernstein
    Beer and cookouts go together like beer and anything else, and one expert recently recommended the six best brews to quaff along with your somewhat charred animal protein. Brooklyn-based beer, spirits, food and travel journalist Joshua Bernstein, who may have the best job in the world (outside of Playboy magazine photographer), suggests the following: Lawson's Scrag Mountain Pils (Salt & Lime),  Elysian Salt & Seed (Watermelon Gose), Sierra Nevada's Summer Break (Session Hazy IPA), Jack's Abby Blood Orange Wheat, Kostritzer Schwarzbier (black lager) and 10 Barrel Brewing Pilsner, which tops out the list with a still rather wimpy 5.1 percent ABV.  
The best beers to drink during and after a grilling session are lower in alcohol but not lacking in flavor, opines Bernstein in a Men's Journal article.
    Personally, I prefer beers that are higher in alcohol and flavorful without things like salt, lime, watermelon and blood orange. But there's little doubt these kinds of culinary brews are pretty popular in the wide world of beer-drinking these days, so who am I to say?
    Of course, beer is just part of the summer grilling experience. The food is also important. And how you prepare and cook it can have a pretty big impact on your health.
Grilling is generally a healthy way to cook food if you take certain precautions,” says Boston-based registered dietitian Joan Salge Blake, a regular source for my diet-related natural health articles and host of the Apple podcast Spot On!
    Here are some tips from her and other experts:
    Avoid cross-contamination: Mixing cooked food with juices from raw meat is a big no-no.  “When it comes to food safety, we have to be careful about cross-contamination,” warns Blake. “People bring the raw meat out on a platter, grill it and then put it back on the same platter without washing it. That’s how you can transfer pathogens that can cause a range of food-borne illnesses.
meat thermometer

Use a thermometer: You can’t trust your eyes to tell you whether or not meat is cooked enough. “One in four hamburgers turn brown before they are at a safe internal temperature to be consumed,” notes Blake. “Rather than trust your vision to determine if food is safe to eat, use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.”
    Keep the flame down: Cooking with high heat from an open fire creates carcinogenic compounds in protein including beef, pork, poultry and seafood. So while that flame-licked steak or salmon may have a great grilled flavor, you’ll also be ingesting heterocyclic amines (HCAs) from the charred part and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the fire’s smoke. Lab studies suggest that they can cause DNA mutations that may boost the risk of cancer, and having alien children (not really).
    Pre-cook meat: One way to reduce HCAs and PAHs is to partially cook meat -- by boiling or microwave -- before grilling it. That will reduce the time it is exposed to the high heat and smoke that creates the dangerous compounds.
    Flip frequently: “You want to keep turning the meat to keep it from getting charred, because that’s where the most of the health problems lie,” says Blake. “If it does get charred, don’t eat that part.” Shoot to flip your meat once a minute.

Grilled veggies
    Grill veggies: “One of the best things you can do for overall health is to grill more vegetables than protein sources,” says Blake. “They don’t produce HCAs and PAHs, and they have a wide range of health benefits.
    Foil flare-ups: One thing that can make the flame flare up is when fat from the meat drips down to the heating source.  Blake suggests putting some foil on the grill, which will keep the melted fat from hitting the flame.
    Use marinade: Studies show that marinades can significantly reduce the HCAs and PAHs in grilled meat. Researchers believe it works by helping to keep the meat moist, and it can also improve flavor. One study showed that using the herb rosemary lowered HCA levels by 90 percent. Other things that can cut down on the bad compounds are garlic, onion and honey.
    Watch your sauce: Blake warns not to use the leftover marinade for a sauce on the cooked meat because it could contain bacteria and other pathogens from the raw meat.    

    Be fire smart: The most obvious health threat of grilling is the fire itself, especially when combined with beer-drinking. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, about 9,000
Man grilling
blazes are sparked by grills every year, causing an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries and more than $100 million in property damage. So use some common sense. The NFPA cites the main fire causes as placing the grill too close to anything that can burn, not cleaning it regularly and leaving it unattended. If using a propane grill, don’t turn the gas on long before lighting it, and also check lines and connections for leaks.
    Don't place your beer on the grill: The beer-drinker pictured here, fighting a grill flare-up with a water hose, will no doubt wind up with a warm beer should he succeed in actually dousing the flame before he and/or his house catch fire. And whether your tastebuds prefer something like a watermelon gose or imperial IPA, no beer tastes very good after being char-broiled.
For more beer-related health stories,
check out Gary's Natural Health Blog Archive