Baking vs grilling: which one is better for you?

Choosing healthy foods to include in your diet is the first step to healthy eating, but how you cook them matters, as well. Some methods are healthier than others and certain preparation techniques can help cut saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories from meals (via American Heart Association). What's more, you don't need to be a master chef to cook healthy dishes. Basic cooking methods like baking and grilling will get the job done.

Baking means you cook food in the oven. This method takes longer than tossing meat or vegetables on a frying pan, but the gentle heat allows the food to cook slowly, meaning its natural moisture will slowly evaporate (via Livestrong). This reduces or eliminates the need for added fats like butter or oils. To bake foods, simply place them in a pan or dish, covered or uncovered, before putting them in the oven.

While baking is certainly a healthy way to prepare food, if you're conscious of fat intake, grilling might be an even better option. Not only do you not need added fats, but with this method, fat drips away from food while cooking, according to the Mayo Clinic. To grill, place foods on the grill rack directly over the heat source. Foil can be used for smaller items like diced vegetables.

Which cooking methods are healthiest?

Other healthy cooking techniques include boiling, blanching, basting, poaching, roasting, broiling, braising, steaming, sautéing, and stir-frying, according to the American Heart Association. Like baking and grilling, these methods do not rely on added fats for preparation.

If you're looking to eat healthy, cooking methods that add unhealthy saturated or trans fats like pan frying and deep frying should be avoided. Trans fats are known to raise LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and lower HDL, or "good" cholesterol (via the Mayo Clinic). Several research studies have linked fried foods to serious health issues, including heart disease and diabetes (via WebMD).

In general, it's best to limit the amount of salt used during food prep, and instead, use spices or herbs to add flavor. Fat should be trimmed from meat and skin removed from poultry before cooking. Finally, don't overcook your vegetables. Keep them on the heat just long enough to make them tender. When vegetables lose their color, they're also losing important nutrients.