Is grilled food safe for children?

March 14, 2024 | 06:03 pm PT
My five-year-old child enjoys grilled fish. What is the safest way to prepare it for my child?


Grilled items are high in fats, oils, and harmful compounds, which negatively affect our health. The fats in meat, when exposed to high grilling temperatures, generate toxic gases, and harmful substances adhere to the surface of the grilled meat. Regular consumption of these substances in large amounts can lead to cancer.

Grilling meat directly at elevated temperatures results in the formation of cancer-causing chemicals known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The creation of various HCAs occurs through the breakdown of amino acids in meat when grilled at temperatures exceeding 200 degrees Celsius. These harmful HCAs are found in the charred sections of the meat.

Grilled food placed on the grill. Illustration photo by Pexels

Grilled food placed on the grill. Illustration photo by Pexels

Additionally, when meat fat drips onto the hot grill and ignites, it forms polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), another type of chemical compound associated with cancer risk.

The nutritional value of grilled foods is typically low. Such foods are often dry and hard, making them unsuitable for children with delicate teeth and less developed digestive systems.

Regular consumption of grilled or high-fat, high-oil foods should be avoided for children, as it may increase the likelihood of obesity, elevate cholesterol levels, and contribute to various severe health issues, posing risks to their well-being.

Nevertheless, if children have a preference for grilled dishes, it is permissible for them to consume these in moderation and with careful preparation, perhaps once or twice a week. To ensure safer grilling practices, food should not be cooked directly over charcoal.

Instead, wrapping food in foil and using safer grilling equipment is recommended. Grilling at lower temperatures to avoid charring, selecting lean or low-fat options for grilling, and marinating meats in sauces like ketchup to minimize charring are advisable strategies.

Dr. Tran Thi Tra Phuong

Nutrihome Nutrition Clinic System

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