Last updated on Jan 13th, 2021 at 02:21 pm

South Africans love to braai

Regardless of race, culture or religion, most South Africans love to braai. So itâ??s no wonder that Heritage Day (24 September) has also become known as National Braai Day, signifying the start of the summer braai season!

However, as much as we enjoy a big fat braai, unhealthy braai habits are not only bad news for our waistlines, they could also increase risks of developing cancer!

Fortunately, we’ve rounded up a few tips to help make braais healthy and hearty!

Minimise the cancer risk

â??Grilling at high heat can convert meat proteins into heterocyclic amines (HCAs), chemicals which have been linked to stomach, colon, prostate and breast cancer,â? says Linda Scott, McNabâ??s nutritionist.

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In addition, she says that smoke from the braai, caused by dripping fat and juices hitting the hot coals, also contains additional carcinogenic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Fortunately, she says that you can reduce exposure to those carcinogenic chemicals by following these tips:

  • Reduce the number of high-fat meats (sausages, chops etc) as they produce more smoke

  • Introduce a drip tray between the meat and the coals

  • Flip often and reduce grilling time to prevent charring

  • Donâ??t stand around the fire where the smoke is at its most concentrated

  • Grill more vegetables â?? vegetable proteins do not form HCAs on grilling, even when they are quite charred, so they can be consumed freely

Bikini-body braai tips

A good braai doesnâ??t have to cancel out those bikini body workouts you’ve been doing!

Instead of eating fatty boerewors and heavily buttered garlic bread, Mary Hoyrold, founder of Weigh-Less, offers the following slimming braai meal ideasâ?¦

  • Marinated chicken breast (donâ??t forget to remove the skin)

  • Lean beef rump steaks or beef kebabs

  • Butternut baked in foil (wrap a seasoned butternut in tinfoil and leave it to roast directly on the coals, turn every 10 minutes)

  • Swop white garlic bread for whole-wheat garlic bread rolls. Rolls make portion control so much easier

Make the most of salads

A healthy salad can soon become a fat trap if you load it with salad dressing. This is because store-bought salad dressings are often laden with oil, sugar and salt (not to mention the preservatives).

Ditch commercial salad dressings and if you need to drizzle anything over your salad, make it Virgin olive oil. Studies have found that the combination of unsaturated fats with nitrite-rich vegetables, such as olive oil and lettuce, helps protect you from high blood pressure.

Recommended reading: Eating lean beef daily may help the heart

Photo credit: LifeSupercharger via photopin cc

What are you top tips for a healthy braai?

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.