Why Using a Charcoal Grill is Healthier

Why Using a Charcoal Grill is Healthier

If it’s the start of summer, everyone loves to fire up their grills. Simply cooking and dining outdoors has become a memorable experience and many people take every chance they get to enjoy good food and the warmth of summer. Barbecuing is so well loved that many Canadians have started firing up their grills well into the winter too! Do you know why using a charcoal grill is healthier?

Grilling also has several benefits that make heading outside to grill food even greater. Though some of these benefits can become less noticeable if you grill during the winter, they are still some of the best reasons that you should keep your grill out throughout the year.

All types of grills – charcoal, propane and wood – share these benefits, so using any kind of grill is a great idea. But if you want a great smoky taste, check out this catalogue of charcoal grills & smokers from Weber.

Benefits of grilling

Most of the time, barbecued food is known for the smoky flavour and delicious char that everyone loves to eat. Many people are more than ready to fire up their grill to make all sorts of dishes, some even going as far as grilling four to six times in a single week! However, many more health benefits come with grilling that people don’t notice at first.

More nutrients are saved

One of the least known benefits of grilling with charcoal grills – and other kinds of grills – is how the foods’ nutrients are retained. With the high heat levels and slow cooking that a grill uses, the outer surfaces of the meat and vegetables you cook are quickly seared and denatured. This makes it so that any nutrient-rich juices and the minerals that the food has remains inside it.

Many vegetables, like zucchini, potatoes and eggplants, are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and many other vitamins. However, when they’re boiled or fried, these vegetables can lose many of the vitamins that make them so healthy. Grilling, on the other hand, has been shown to retain more of those vitamins in the vegetables than if they were cooked in other methods.

Meat also sees the same nutrient retention that grilled vegetables have. Though meat’s often known for its high protein content, they also have quite a few nutrients in them. White meat, such as chicken, turkey and some seafood, is one of the best sources of both vitamin B3 and B12. Red meat like beef and pork, on the other hand, is phosphorus and zinc-rich. Both types of meat retain nearly all their nutrients when grilled and are even healthier due to the decreased fat!

You go outside more often

Barbecuing is an activity that’s supposed to be done outdoors. During the summer, it’s a perfect opportunity to invite friends over to spend time together while enjoying the warmth. Many people aren’t likely to do the same on frigid winter days, but if you check the weather before, you can still get a good amount of sun – the best way to get vitamin D naturally!

With how often the Sun is out during the summer and how many people spend time outdoors, people’s moods are naturally high. However, winter is too cold to stay outside for too long and many people face seasonal depression. Vitamin D is known to help the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, but it’s also one of the most natural mood boosters. Doing something as simple as barbecuing on a sunny winter day can easily make you happier while also letting your body better absorb all those nutrients in that yummy food!

How grilling with charcoal can be unhealthy

With all that said, however, no form of cooking is entirely healthy or beneficial. Many sources say that grilling creates heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – HCAs and PAHs, respectively. These molecules are linked to certain types of cancer with enough exposure to them. Charcoal grilling specifically creates a third type of dangerous hydrocarbon: nitrogen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or NPAHs.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should stop barbecuing entirely. Like with many foods and drinks, the main cause of these hydrocarbons is charred food. With proper care and moderation, you can easily reduce the intake of these dangerous particles.

Avoiding the negative side effects of a charcoal grill

As with many cooking methods, there are many ways to avoid those negative effects of barbecuing. One such way is to use a marinade instead of a rub. A study has shown that simply letting the food marinate for an hour before grilling it caused the level of carcinogens to drop. Oddly enough, this is mostly due to the fact that the marinade you use adds moisture to the meat. That same moisture prevents charring and even makes the meat less sticky to the carcinogenic smoke.

Another study has shown that seasoning meat with rosemary can cut down the amounts of carcinogens by more than 90% in many cases. This is primarily because rosemary is high in antioxidants that effectively block hydrocarbons. Similar to rosemary, other antioxidant-rich foods like garlic, onions, honey and tart cherries are just as great of an option. What makes it even better is that many of these foods are already staples in many marinades!

Finally, the simplest option is to simply remove any excess char. This can be from either your food itself or from the grate. That char is often filled with these carcinogens, so getting rid of it can reduce the risk. Clean the grate before using it, only cook to a proper internal temperature instead of its external char, and cut off any burnt bits of food.


With a careful eye on what your food’s internal temperature is and how charred it gets, grilling with a charcoal grill or any other kind can be quite a healthy way to cook your food. It helps retain the nutrients that the food has while also allowing you to get more vitamin D. Altogether, these benefits can do quite a great deal, and can even make your day far better!

Photo by Jaco Pretorius on Unsplash

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