How healthy are grilled foods?
What you need to know:
- Apart from getting rid of the blood and fat, after handling meat, Kutesa says, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands to avoid instances of cross contamination.
In a bid to steer clear of fried foods, many people have resorted to grilled foods. With the latter, there are no oils applied and in the process of grilling, fat is reduced, which translates to eating less unhealthy fats.
However, while many love the idea of eating grilled food, is it a healthier option?
“When meat is grilled, depending on how hot the flame is, chances are it will burn before it gets ready. This means that if there are organisms such as tape worms therein that the fast, extreme heat has not killed, they are transferred to the human body. Eating this undercooked food may also lead to severe food poisoning,” Diana Namuli, a nutritionist, says.
Namuli adds that eating charred meats also increases the risk of getting cancer.
“It has been said that the smoke that comes off the grill as well as the charred meat contains carcinogens, which may cause cancer,” she shares.
Here are tips to make grilled foods healthy:
Food poisoning may occur when sorting food. That is why Peace Kutesa, a nutritionist, says it is wise to put foods in separate containers.
“Ensure that fruits, vegetables and other foods that will be eaten raw are kept away from raw meats. This way, you prevent cross transfer of bacteria which could lead to contamination. Additionally, use a different cutting board for raw meats and wash thoroughly afterwards,” she says.
Wash your hands
Apart from getting rid of the blood and fat, after handling meat, Kutesa says, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands to avoid instances of cross contamination.
Namuli says leftovers, as well as beef and poultry that has not yet been cooked should be frozen. “In case of leftovers, you could keep it warm for maybe supper, if the meat or poultry was left over from lunch. Otherwise, an hour after grilling, it should be put in the freezer,” she says.
According to solefoodkitchen.com cook the meat until it reaches a safe internal temperature throughout. Cooking time depends on the size and type of meat you are making. A smaller portion of meat will take around 30 to 40 minutes, but larger cuts or full roasts could take up to a few hours.
Cook whole cuts of meat, including pork, to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees and let rest for at least three minutes. Cook all ground meats to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.
Oftentimes, grills are left uncovered. This leaves room for bugs to fly and walk on the food, thus contaminating it. Ensure that your food is well covered.
Add other items to the plate
There is no rule that only meats should be grilled. By adding a few vegetables while cutting back on meat, Namuli says, you are reducing the amount of Advanced Glycation end products (AGEs); harmful compounds and Heterocyclic amines (HCA); carcinogens that are produced when foods high in proteins and fats are heated. On the other hand, when heated, vegetables will produce phytochemicals and antioxidants, which protect the body from harmful radicals,” she says.
Carefully choose your proteins
For those that love meat so much that cutting back takes the fun out of a meal, Kutesa suggests carefully choosing your proteins. “White or lean meat is better than red meat. On the other hand, eating direct-farm meats is better than processed meats such as bacon, sausages, and hotdogs. The latter produce higher amounts of HCAs, thus increased potential for damage,” she advises.
Reduce charring instances
When cooking foods on high heat, there is an increase in the production of HCAs. Namuli says besides this, there is also browning and charring, thus increased production of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which overtime cause cataracts, kidney disease, and liver damage, among others.
“To avoid charring and browning, put the meats on the grill after the flames have died down. Once charred, cut the charred portion off and discard it,” she advises.
Grill fruits and vegetables
Grilling fruits and vegetables is a great idea, whether or not you are grilling meat or fish to go with them. We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and this is an appealing way to serve them. Also, eating fruits and vegetables benefits the body in so many ways; reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, obesity, and some types of cancer.
But here is the best part; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) and HCAs do not form on grilled fruits and vegetables. Plus, if you are having grilled meat, it is a great idea to get antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in the same meal.