Montgomery, AL (WSFA/NBC) - There's word that eating "well-done" meats may be harmful to your health. That doesn't mean you have to give up the grill just yet.
The problem is when the juices and fat drip from meat onto an open flame. It splatters your steak with something far worse than ketchup, polycyclic carbons.
"These chemicals are very harmful," said Cleveland Clinic Dr. Haitham Ahmed. "They cause oxidative stress, they cause inflammation in your body."
Now there's evidence that over time they may affect blood vessels. A new study links eating charred meats cooked at high temperatures with high blood pressure.
Outside cardiologists say the research is well done.
"This is the first time that we're seeing it on a large scale basis, more than a 100,000 patients, who are now getting high blood pressure 10, 15 years later," Dr. Ahmed said.
Red meat also has cholesterol and saturated fat, both certain risk factors for hypertension, and meat dishes are often paired with salty foods like french fries.
Even so, the study found it was the true barbecue enthusiasts who were more likely to develop high blood pressure, grilling out every other day.
"For the average American, though, I think if you're grilling a few times a week, that should be ok as long as you're being cognizant of the rest of your diet," said Dr. Ahmed.
Meaning, make room for veggies so long-term health doesn't go up in flames.
Experts suggest investing in a meat thermometer so you can make sure dinner is cooked without being overdone.