Mesquite wood is used in barbecuing and smoking foods. It gives foods a slightly sweet smokey flavour. Mesquite is the common name for several small spine hardwood trees or shrubs of the genus Prosopis in the pea family. They are native to the southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
Although you may like smoked foods, they contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are known carcinogens. Smoked foods are known to be carcinogenic when eaten as a regular part of a person’s diet. Most people do not eat enough smoked foods for this to be a major concern.
HOWEVER, the hotter the wood or charcoal burns, the more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are produced. And mesquite burns hotter than hardwood charcoal, and produces much more of these dangerous hydrocarbons.
According to a study on the subject, in meat cooked with mesquite as opposed to hardwood charcoal, the cancer causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is 8 times higher and the benzopyrene – the most dangerous hydrocarbon – 40 times.