Summer is right around the corner. Usually this would mean millions of Brits firing up the BBQ to enjoy al fresco dining with family and friends. However, due to Covid-19, the country has been on lockdown since March, meaning that social gatherings are no longer allowed as we tackle this pandemic.
While this may be the case, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a BBQ in the sunshine with members of your household — or even yourself if you live alone. The government insists that making use of your personal outdoor space will be crucial for your mental health during these hard times. As well as cooking your dinner outside potentially helping with your mental wellbeing, did you know that barbecuing your food can actually have numerous health benefits?
From lowering your fat consumption to increasing the flavour of your meat and veg, barbecuing your food can be a quick, easy and enjoyable way to cook up a healthy meal. So why not get your BBQ set up and enjoy your outdoor space during lockdown?
Five health benefits of BBQ food
- Grilling can lower your fat consumption
Barbecuing your meat can actually help reduce its fat content. This is because the excess tends to drip through the grates when cooking (unlike in a pan where your meat can absorb the fat). In fact, the NHS advises that grilling meat is a great way to lower your overall fat intake – just make sure you trim anything visible such as crackling to make your meal as healthy as possible.
And remember that fat doesn’t always have to be the enemy – include some avocado in your salads for a healthy, tasty source of fat!
- Barbecued veggies are better for you
Your grilled meat shouldn’t be enjoyed alone! Grilling your vegetables on a BBQ too is a great healthy option for getting your five a day through the warmer seasons. Not only does it once again reduce your fat intake (as you don’t need to use as much oil) but cooking at a slower pace and lower temperature retains lots of vitamins and minerals – without losing any flavour.
The beauty of summer is that the majority of the vegetables you’re cooking with are also in season, so not only will you be enjoying them at their freshest, but you’ll also be cooking them to perfection.
- Stay carcinogen-free
Did you know that using charcoal in your BBQ can expose you (and your food) to cancer-causing chemicals? This has led some doctors to suggest that cooking with bottled gas is preferable to charcoal.
Charcoal is a type of carcinogen, due to the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines that are created when your food is cooked over an open flame. This can expose the food you eat to cancer-causing chemicals. If you’re worried, swapping charcoal for gas is the easy option.
Another benefit to cooking with gas is that it’s much easier to control the temperature of your BBQ, helping avoid the higher temperatures associated with carcinogens. Some great advice to keep the temperature manageable is to light the outside burners rather than the center one, then place your meat and veg in the center of the grill (with the lid closed).
- Less is more
If you’re a glorified grill master and have perfected the art of not overcooking your food, your barbecued meals should be packed with plenty of flavour. And what’s more, as barbecued food locks in more moisture, you may not be as inclined to add condiments to your meal or reach for extra fats such as butter. Not only will this help you cut down on calories, but you’ll also be reducing unhealthy sugar-packed extras!
- Retain those nutrients!
The flavour of barbecued meat is without a doubt one of the main reasons so many of us will be grilling our meals this summer. But did you know that cooking your meat on a BBQ can actually preserve key vitamins (namely riboflavin and thiamine)?
Thiamine and riboflavin are B vitamins that help your body turn food into fuel for more energy, and play a vital role in maintaining a healthy diet.
Barbecue with confidence
It’s easy to see why families across the UK choose outdoor grilling as a fun, healthy, and sociable way to cook when the sun comes out. Just because it can’t be the big social gathering that normally accompanies a BBQ, it doesn’t mean you have to forfeit this cooking option during lockdown.