Want to Avoid Carcinogens When Grilling? Rub Meat With These 9 Powerful Spices.

Grilled Steak
 Eugene Mymrin / Getty Images

Grilling can be a healthy, delicious way to cook.

But it does have some risks. When you toss a steak on the BBQ, the surface of the meat can form something called heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s standards.

And those carcinogens aren’t limited to steak. Pork, chicken, and most types of fish can also form the cancer-causing compounds.

A simple way to stop HCAs in their tracks will also amplify flavor: add antioxidant-rich spices.

By rubbing or incorporating spices from the mint family—like rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, and marjoram—into meat, you can reduce the cancer-causing compounds, according to research from Kansas State University.

Black pepper is also exceptionally good at preventing the formation of HCAs, but there’s a catch. To stop the compounds from forming, you’d need to use so much pepper that the meat would become practically inedible, according to researchers.

But if you grill meat with a mix of pepper and the above spices, you can ward off HCAs and maximize flavor. Cloves and allspice are also potent health-boosting spices.