There are many reasons to love a good, high-temperature sear on your meat. One of the main benefits of broiling versus traditional grilling is the distinctive taste and aroma it creates. Broiling allows the meat to undergo the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction within browned food in which reducing sugars react with amino acids to form a complex mixture of compounds. Another way to say this is that meats taste better when cooked at a high temperature!
A lesser-discussed benefit to broiling over other forms of outdoor cooking relates to health. We spoke with Dr. Ben Beckert, a local Texas physician, health nut, and Samson broiler enthusiast, to learn more about these health benefits.
Love your Food, Love Yourself
What are the benefits of high heat broiling?
Dr. Beckert: Broiling is a technique whereby direct heat is used for cooking foods. It usually requires less or no oil or fat to cook the food than traditional outdoor cooking methods.
Top-fired, high heat often assists in the natural reduction in fat from food, especially meats, as the fat will often drip out of the bottom of the meat into the drip pan during the cooking process.
How does broiling compare to traditional charcoal grilling?
Dr. Beckert: With traditional grilling, the heat melts the fat, which then drips down on the hot charcoal resulting in a chemical and thermal reaction. The fat causes the open flame to flare, which often blackens meat and creates a char. This char is actually a release of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). The more substantial the amount of aromatic hydrocarbons consumed, the higher the risk of malignant transformation in our cells.
The heat source is situated above the meat with broiling, so fat drips from the food without meeting the heat source. This eliminates any chemical reactions seen in grilling, making it a healthier outdoor cooking method.
What should someone looking to improve their health consider before cooking outdoors?
Dr. Beckert: There are a variety of things you can do to make your outdoor cooking experience a healthy one.
Proper ventilation is key to a healthy outdoor cooking experience. You want to make sure you aren't inhaling a large amount of smoke or burn-off from meats as they are cooking. A well-ventilated area will ensure you have optimal air quality for a safe and healthy outdoor cooking experience.
Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Ensure you are protected from the sun and general outdoor exposure by using adequate sunscreen and bug spray. You can avoid most health concerns related to outdoor activities by always applying these two items before cooking outdoors.
Add Healthy Greens
A universal healthy eating tip is to include greens in your diet. This is an easy task on a broiler as broiled veggies offer great flavor and are a healthy addition.
Choose Low-Fat & Lower Sodium Meat
If you want to reduce your risk of a myriad of health issues, choosing low-fat, lower-sodium meats is a great place to start. You don't have to sacrifice flavor for health when opting for marginally healthier cuts of meat.