If you’re planning on firing up the barbecue, this is a good time to turn to the Barbecue chapter of my new book The Right Bite. On the face of it, a barbecue ticks a lot of health boxes, after all, grilled meats and salad seem to be a relatively healthy option, but there are some major pitfalls to watch out for. Here are four top tips to help you enjoy your next barbecue and maximise the potential health benefits.
- Select a Superior Sausage
If you’re partial to a sausage, then take a close look at the actual meat content on the label, as this can vary dramatically. Some sausages contain less than 40% meat, which can include fat and connective tissue too, and which leaves a lot of room for fillers, such as rusk and water. The more your sausage leaks water or white liquid into the pan, the more it is likely to be largely made up of fillers. A premium sausage will contain 85-90% meat which makes it of far superior quality and ensures fewer additives and fillers. If you’re wondering which sausage to choose, spare a thought for a venison sausage – they’re a better source of protein than beef or pork sausages, as well as containing higher levels of energy-boosting iron.
- Tone Down the Toxins
It’s a smart move to use lean cuts of meat, such as chicken, and to cut the fat off any red meat, as this will help to reduce the amount of fat that drips from the meat onto the barbecue which causes flames. Cooking meat over an open flame can lead to the creation of powerful toxins, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have been associated with an increased risk of cancer. You could also partially cook the meat in advance, so that barbecue cooking time is reduced. Using smaller cuts of meat and cutting off any charred bits could also help to reduce your potential exposure to PAHs.
- Shun the Sauces
It’s easy to undo all your good work and careful choices by getting carried away with sugary sauces and glazes. A modest 37ml serving of sweet chilli or honey-based barbecue sauce contains around 4 teaspoons of sugar, so it’s important not to pour it on with a liberal hand. If sauce is a must, then opt for an unsweetened chilli sauce, a hot pepper sauce or even mustard, as these contain very little sugar.
- Keep the Coleslaw
If it’s a toss up between coleslaw and potato salad, then you should choose coleslaw every time. Largely made up of antioxidant-rich cabbage and carrot, it contains about half the carb content of potato salad and twice as much fibre, which is good news for your waistline and your digestion. It’s also a smart move to opt for full-fat rather than low-fat coleslaw, as manufacturers often add extra sugar to low fat products to enhance the flavour, and coleslaw is no exception.
If you’d like more handy barbecue tips or would like to find out about the best choices for picnics, takeaway food and other tricky eating situations, then The Right Bite is definitely the book for you!
Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. Passionate about the importance of good nutrition for optimum health, she creates practical nutrition programmes suitable for a busy 21st century lifestyle. Jackie also provides advice and support for a range of blue chip companies, in the form of individual consultations for staff, nutrition workshops and menu analysis and has acted as a food consultant for brands such as Tetley. She is the ‘go-to’ person for the Mail on Sunday for sensible nutrition advice and has a regular column in Reveal Magazine. Jackie is also Chair of Trustees for the Institute for Optimum Nutrition.
The Right Bite
Available from Nourish Books
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