More than half of all Americans fired up their barbecue on Memorial Day (May 30th), while a whopping 68% say they’ll do the same on the July 4th long weekend. A summer barbecue is a perfect time to enjoy friends, family, and the great outdoors — and nothing brings people together like a good burger or a smoky rack of ribs. Yet these same foods can also hide a lot of sneaky ingredients, unhealthy fats, and sugar that sabotage our wellness and compromise our immune systems. Fire up the grill while also firing up your health with these healthy summer barbecue do’s and don’ts!

How to Eat Healthier at a Summer Barbecue: What to Look For and What to Look Out For

1. Propane Versus Charcoal Grills

summer barbecueYour summer barbecue will feature either a propane grill or a charcoal grill. Both get the job done, but one is far better for your health.

The smoke from charcoal produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The smoke then comes in contact with your grilled food and deposits these PAHs on everything you’re about to eat.

“[PAHs] are known to change human DNA and are considered carcinogenic,” reports Healthline. “Grilling with gas is considered safer than grilling with charcoal. You create a lot less smoke when you cook with gas, reducing the creation of PAHs. Gas grilling also doesn’t get nearly as hot, reducing the creation of HCAs.” Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are another well-known type of carcinogen.

Propane or gas grills also produce PAHs and HCAs, but they’re easier to control the temperature with and help you avoid the flare-ups and high temperatures that trigger the highest levels of HCAs and PAHs.

2. Choose Your Meat Wisely

summer barbecueAvoid grilling processed meats if possible (e.g. hot dogs, bacon, sausages etc.). Processed meats have some of the highest levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in all foods.

A diet high in AGEs causes numerous problems, including chronic inflammation (a risk factor for most diseases) and damage at a cellular level. They also use up your body’s stored antioxidants and affect immune cell function.

Instead, serve up lean, pasture-raised meat pre-cooked in the oven and simply finished off on the grill. This way you get all the flavor in the least amount of time on the grill. You may even find your meat is less likely to dry out and is more tender!

3. Rethink Your Sides

From potato salad to potato chips, side dishes are often one of the main stars at a summer barbecue. But they’re also often high in fat, sugar, and salt. Enjoy in moderation, or better yet, switch to a healthier alternative like:

  • Grilled veggies
  • Roasted corn on the cob
  • Coleslaw if it’s made with vinegar or natural yogurt instead of mayo
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bean salad
  • Fresh fruit (better yet, give it a twist and barbecue watermelon, peaches, pears, or other summer fruit!)

Speaking of sides: Don’t forget your supplements! BioPro-Plus 500 is a perfect compliment to a long summer’s day. When you’re out in the sun grilling your favorite foods, you put stress on your immune system. BioPro-Plus 500 can help. BioPro-Plus 500 is a unique dietary supplement which is clinically proven to increase CD4 cell counts. CD4 cells (T-cells) are white blood cells which play a major role in your body’s own natural immune system response. Without adequate CD4 cells, preexisting disease may run rampant in your body and you are even more vulnerable to new infection. Learn more here!

4. Go With Soak Instead of Salt

summer barbecueInstead of seasoning all your grilled food with the traditional copious amounts of salt, try soaking your food in marinades or rubs.

This really amplifies the flavor of your food without depending on sodium, which can contribute to inflammation, bloating, high blood pressure, poor gut health, and even a weaker immune system. If using some salt, use sea salts or Himalayan salts that are packed with minerals.

Common spices that work well for most foods found at a summer barbecue include cumin, garlic power, allspice. and paprika. Best of all, these spices contains potent antioxidants and plant compounds that strengthen your immune system.