Nutrition and Fitness, Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | 7 years ago

High Five for Healthy Grilling

Warmer weather means abandoning the oven for extra outdoor time around the grill. Whether the menu includes juicy burgers or flaky fish, grilling can add flavor and fun to your summertime meals.

“Grilling can be one of the healthiest forms of food preparation,” said Dr. Adrian Hurst, DO, at Carolinas HealthCare System’s North Charlotte Medical Specialists, in Huntersville. “But what you grill and how you grill it are keys in just how healthy (or not) the end result is.” Dr. Hurst offers these five tips for healthy grilling:
  1. Stay Away from Processed Meat

Yes, a hotdog on the grill seems like the all-American choice, but eat hot dogs and sausages in moderation. Instead, choose lean cuts of beef, poultry or thick fish. A nice piece of steak with slight marbling or a chicken breast are perfect for grilling. Good fish choices are salmon, tuna and even shrimp (put them on a skewer to keep them from falling through the grill grates).
  1. Veg Up

Almost any vegetable or fruit can be cooked on the grill, and you might be surprised at the taste – grilling can tease out different flavors than indoor cooking. “This is a great way to get more vegetables into your body,” said Dr. Hurst. “And why not take advantage of the bounty of vegetables available all summer here in the South?”
  1. Marinate, Marinate

Marinating lean meats and veggies is the best way to inject flavor and healthier fats into your foods. This can be as easy as a little olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add a few dried or fresh herbs, mix, and you you’ve got a simple flavor boost. Simply put the meat or vegetables into a large zip-top plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Many meats can even marinate overnight in the fridge.
  1. Avoid Char

Keeping flames at bay will result in healthier grilling. In addition to being safer for the grill master, making sure to keep blackening to a minimum is healthier for your diners. Studies have shown some cancer-causing substances can be released when fat from meat drips onto hot coals or the grill burner and then are deposited back on the food through smoke and flare-ups. Watch closely if your recipe requires high-temp grilling. Oil the grill, and consider putting your food on a sheet of foil with small holes poked into it.
  1. Keep it Clean

The grill and utensils should be properly cleaned before, during and after dinner preparation. Dr. Hurst recommends preheating for 20 to 30 minutes to kill off bacteria from previous grill sessions. “Clean utensils that touched raw meats before those same utensils touch cooked meats, or use two separate sets of utensils when you grill,” she said. And, don’t put cooked foods back on plates that held raw foods. After grilling, and while the grill is still hot, scrape down the grill grates with a stiff wire brush.   Carolinas HealthCare System is committed to making it easy to keep you and your family healthy. To learn more about how we make health easy for you, visit