The Downsides Of Grilling

When it's hot out, the last thing we want to do is heat up the kitchen by using the oven or a slow cooker. Heavy stews and casseroles become unappealing, and dining alfresco is an attractive option. The appeal becomes even greater if you have a grill readily available to throw on some hamburgers or halloumi for a quick and easy meal. Grilling is a ubiquitous part of food culture in the U.S. According to the Los Angeles Times, three out of four adult Americans own a grill or a smoker of some kind.

Grilling may be a common part of food culture, but unfortunately, that doesn't make it a healthy practice. You can throw whatever you would like on the barbie, but there are some downsides to grilling you should be aware of before you do.

According to Eat This, Not That!, food that has been charred or burnt on the grill should be avoided. That is because chemicals such as polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are found in food that has been cooked at high temperatures can lead to certain cancers, including esophageal and colorectal. Additionally, many premade or pre-packaged foods meant for grilling — such as meat marinades — contain a lot of sodium, which puts you at risk for high blood pressure. Other common foods, like those detectable chili dogs and pre-made hamburgers, are filled with unhealthy and processed fats. 

Grilling is okay in moderation

But hey, don't let us spoil your next BBQ. Firing up the grill every now and then is not a huge threat to your health. According to Bon Appetite, consuming grilled foods in moderation is not that unhealthy, and there are ways to lessen the amount of harmful chemicals found in grilled food. Researchers at the University of Hawaii found that marinating meat in either an Indian garlic-turmeric marinade or a Hawaiian teriyaki marinade as little as an hour before cooking significantly reduced how many bad chemicals were found in the food — possibly because the added moisture kept the meat from charring and created less smoke. 

For a healthy backyard feast, try to avoid chemical-forming flare-ups on the grill caused by dripping meat, and make sure to cut away any burnt or charred parts before consumption. And while we love indulging in a good chili dog as much as the next person, keep the unhealthy foods as occasional treats and mix up your grilling game with healthier options like fruits and veggies.