Grilling is great for bringing people outdoors to celebrate food and soak in the sun during the warmer seasons. Grilling can be a healthy way to cook, yet some common foods and grilling techniques can be troublesome. Elevate your BBQ game with these top cooking techniques and nutritious proteins and sides.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there isn’t enough evidence to show that grilled meat specifically increases the risk for cancers, but cooking meat at high temperatures creates cancer-causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The risk of these forming is higher in red and processed meats such as hot dogs or some hamburgers. Smoked or charred meats also have an increased threat (1).
To help prevent your risk of cancer and make your grilling experience both fun and healthy, here are simple swaps that offer full range benefits:
Just as the name describes, slow and low is a method of cooking for a longer period of time at a lower temperature versus using a hot and quick, like frying. Because of the lower temperature, the nutrients in the food remain more stable and are preserved. It also prevents as many of those cancer-causing substances.
It’s best to shorten the exposure time to the flame and grill in general. Especially if you’re grilling bigger portions of meat, you can partially pre-cook it by putting it in the stove first. Finish cooking it on the BBQ right after in order to reduce the time it’s at room temperature because this increases the risk of harmful bacteria (2).
Some research suggests that marinating meat before grilling can help decrease HCAs (5). Plus making your own marinade can reduce your salt intake and boost nutrients by using herbs and spices. For instance, you’ll be getting disease reducing anti-inflammatory properties with seasonings such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, or garlic. Check out this simple marinade recipe from the American Heart Association (4 servings). Try marinating at least six hours before grilling and remember to keep it in the refrigerator:
Choosing more lean options like fish, skinless chicken, and lean ground poultry are healthy choices in general (3). You’ll be giving your heart an added bonus by limiting the amount of saturated fat you’re eating. If you do want pork or beef, trim the fat off in order to reduce flare-ups and charring.
Blending some lower calorie yet nutrient packed vegetables can help reduce the cooking time, therefore lessening the exposure to high levels of heat. For instance, try chopping onion and mushrooms and mixing them into your burger meat. You can also create a delicious kebab with zucchini and bell peppers. Eating more vegetables will also help lower your cancer risk. People whose diets are more plant based have a decreased chance of getting certain cancers (4).
These toasty, roast potatoes and vegetables are hearty yet healthy. They make a great side to meat dishes or can be mixed with a vegan option like chopped portobello mushrooms or tofu. This can also be put on the grill by placing the ingredients inside tin foil.
A sweet twist on the classic steak accompaniment, these eye health boosting, Vitamin A rich sweet potatoes are a perfect grill option. Also yummy to serve cold.
Your friends or family will rave about these complete protein packed quinoa green peppers. Peppers are rich in immune boosting vitamin C to keep you healthy all summer long.
For more tasty grill accompaniments, check out: Surprisingly Delicious Summer Grilled Fruits and Veggies to Try. For diet specific recipes, check out Lifesum!
All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice.
All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.