Healthwise – Which Is Better? Barbecuing or Grilling?

Before deciding which method of preparing your food is better and healthier, you need to know the difference between grilling and barbecuing. In this article, we are going to share some facts about barbecuing and grilling and how you can make them healthy yet flavorsome.

The two usual cooking techniques or methods that we hear about a lot while dining, barbecuing and grilling, have a few differences. However, you will find people interchangeably using these terms. Before going for the differences, the thing that is similar in both the techniques is, you will get a delicious and mouthwatering flavor in your food!

Difference between Grilling and Barbecuing

Both barbecuing and grilling refer to the technique of cooking your food outdoors over a heating source. The thing to remember is that you cannot use the terms interchangeably for the same cooking method. The crucial factors that differentiate these both are the total cooking time and the kind of heat used.

  • Grilling

Most of us cook dinner in our backyards and call it barbecue, which is grilling. Grilling is the technique of cooking your food hot and fast. The temperature in grilling is usually 500 to 550°F or higher. Meats like seafood, steaks, hot dogs, pork chops, and hamburgers are ideal for grilling.

You can also cook some fruit and several vegetables on the grill. In grilling, the flame (either charcoal or gas) must be directly below the meat. It is because direct heat increases the temperature.

  • Barbecuing

Barbecuing is the technique used for cuts of meat like beef brisket, ribs, whole turkey or chicken, or pork shoulder. Barbecuing is an ideal process of cooking since it provides low and slow heat, which turns hard meat tender.  In some states such as Texas they are extremely proud of their BBQ cuisine.

Unlike grilling, in barbecuing, the heat is kept very low, usually 225°F or lower. You have to cook the food for a very long period, hours or even the whole day. In barbecuing, you cook with indirect heat, where the source of the heat connects to the chamber. The chamber holds the meat, so it is not directly over the flame.

For barbecue, the heat source is usually wood or charcoal. Different kind of woods gives distinct smoky flavors that the meat absorbs.

Sauces, Spices, and Marinades

Another fact about barbecuing and grilling is that you can use the same sauces and spices for both the methods. The name ‘barbecue sauce’ confuses a lot of people. But the good news is, you can use it for whatever technique you want.

In the case of spice, the thing that can differ is the timing. In barbecued dishes, you add spices after cooking, whereas in grilling, it is the opposite.

Marinades are usually used for grilling rather than barbecued food. For this process, all you need to do is, soak your vegetables and meat in the marinade for about an hour or two (you can even leave it overnight). During the soaking time, the food will absorb the flavors and some of the liquid. After that, you can grill them, and it will make your meat juicer and more delicious.

Concerns Related to Grilling

A lot of people are worried and think that grilling can cause significant health issues, which is not all true. Very few researches have examined the effects of grilling specifically. Most of them are general and for all high-temperature cooking methods like frying, roasting, and boiling. However, we should not dismiss the potential possible adverse health effects.

  • Some food contains Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) compounds, but these can also form when you cook food using the high-heat methods. Higher consumption of AGEs can cause inflammation and progression or development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases.
  • When you cook animal proteins like pork, beef, fish, or chicken, specific compounds such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) get formed. The number of PAHs and HCAs increases with cooking temperature and time. When consumed in large doses, they appear to be carcinogenic in animals but have no direct association with humans.
  • Heterocyclic amines are usually the result of charbroiled or overcooked food: sugars, creatine, and amino acids in the meat react with the heat. They can damage your DNA in return.
  • Several other factors influence HCA formation, including temperature, type of food, and time and method of food preparation.
  • PAHs are the result of blackened or charred meat, or when the fat runs onto the hot grilled surface. It comprises of over a hundred different compounds, formed by the incomplete burning of coal, oil, food, or gas.
  • A lot of factors influence the formation of PAH, like the time and temperature of cooking, as well as the type of food and fat content it contained.

Guidelines for Healthier Barbecuing and Grilling

Although research has found the link between grilled food and cancer, you can reduce their possibilities with these simple tips and enjoy your meal.

1. Marinate the Meat

The idea of soaking your fruits, meat, and vegetables in a delicious marinade to get a meal full of flavors is appetizing. Some of the favorite marinade ingredients include onions, lemon/lime juice, wines, honey, spices, low-sodium soy sauce, vinegar, herbs, and garlic. To avoid the dripping of fat on coals or even to limit it, always go for fat-free marinades on your grilled fish, meats, and poultry.

We have some marinating tips for you as well. Keep them in mind while marinating your meat.

  • When making marinade by yourself or picking the bottled one, always search for the recipes or products that include canola or olive oil.
  • Avoid basting your food in the liquid you used for marinating your meat since it moves raw meat juices to the cooked one.
  • Marinate your poultry and meats at least one to two hours. Marinating vegetables and fishes for an hour will be enough.

2. Select the Perfect Protein

Some of the healthier choices include lean ground poultry, skinless chicken, and fish. Fish like trout and salmon contain good fats, which are beneficial for health. And you can make your guests forget about the red meat, which is full of saturated fat, by grilling the fish with skill.

If you want to choose pork or meat, get round or loin cuts, and instead of “prime,” pick grades of beef.

3. Cut off the Bad Fat

Before buying chicken for grilling, always go for skinless poultry or remove the skin by yourself before cooking. Cut off all the visible fat on the meat and use a healthy oil to brush and marinate your foods.

4. Resize Your Portions

The size of a healthy portion of every kind of meat is three ounces, so the size of your piece should not be more than six ounces. If it is small for you, then you can grill some vegetables and fruits to fill your dish.

5. Grill Vegetables and Fruits

No matter if you are grilling fish and meat or not, having grilled vegetables and fruits would be a fantastic idea. It is a tasty way of fulfilling your fruits and vegetable requirements. In this way, you can increase their consumption in your diet. Fruits and vegetables benefit your body in several ways, such as lowering the risks of obesity, coronary heart diseases, cancer, and stroke.

Do you want to know the best part of grilling vegetables and fruits? HCAs and PAHs do not form on them. It is always a great idea to include antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables with grilled meat. Vegetables and fruits that are significant to grill include Mango, tomatoes, endive, pear, onions, pineapple, zucchini, apple, and bell peppers.

6. Reduce Grilling Time

Take smaller pieces of poultry, meat, and fish to grill. They will cook fast and cut down on grilling time. Another way is to precook fish, chicken, and meat in the microwave or baking oven, and then finally cook them on the grill.

Final Verdict

The bottom line is, both the cooking techniques – barbecuing and grilling – can be delicious and healthier, if cooked in the right way. Taking all the precautions and following all the recommended tips, you can enjoy your full of flavors grilled and barbecued food without worrying.