Unique benefits of grilling

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 1, 2016

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, there is no better time to get outdoors and enjoy something cooked on the grill because there are ample benefits to one’s health involved.

Grilling leads to less fat in the meat, retention of more nutrients, and even helps people get outside and enjoy outdoor activities.

Primarily, when grilling, people will eat less fat, said Hattiesburg Clinic dietitian Stephanie Owen.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Grilling allows the fat to drip off the meat. When you cook a burger on the stove, the fat stays in the pan and is absorbed back into the meat,” said Owen.

Meats that are good for people’s health, Owen said, include grilled chicken and pork. Hamburgers can even be healthier when cooked on a grill.

“Hamburgers are fine as long as you select meat with less fat, however hot dogs are a processed food, which will make them high in sodium and fat,” said Owen.

Healthier substitutes can make grilling a unique experience.

“Veggie burgers and fish are some great choices. Also, vegetables cook quickly and are delicious. An additional benefit of vegetables is that they retain their nutrients,” said Valley Inc. dietitian Carolyn Bailey.

She recommends trying onions, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini or squash and fruits such as pineapple, pears, and peaches on the grill to create a delectable meal.

Bailey said grilling is frequently combined with outdoor activities, promoting more physical activity and more family time.

Safety preparations are necessary to avoid any foodborne illnesses, said Bailey.

There’s also evidence to suggest that overlooking food on the grill should be avoided.

“Research suggests a link between grilled food and potential cancer-causing compounds that occur with charring and flare-ups from meat juices falling on charcoal or the grill,” said Bailey.

To reduce the potential risk, Bailey suggests controlling the flare-ups by using a lower heat and instead of using a fork to flip the food, which pierces the meat, use a spatula or tongs.